Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "Twenty best European plays on the American stage"

See other formats


I 




UNIVERSITY 
OF FLORIDA 
LIBRARIES 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/twentybesteuropegass 



Twenty Best 

EUROPEAN PLAYS 

on the 

AMERICAN STAGE 



edited with an introduction by 



JOHN GASSNER 



CROWN PUBLISHERS, INC. • NEW YORK 



Fourth Printing, November, 1963 



© 19 S7 t)y Crown Publishers, Inc. 

Note : All plays contained in this volume are fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of 

America, the British Empire, including the Dominion of Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright 

Union. Permission to reproduce, wholly or in part, must be obtained from the copyright owners or their 

agents. 

All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, public reading, radio broadcasting, 
televised performance, and the rights of translation into foreign languages are strictly reserved. These plays 
are for the reading public only. All inquiries for such rights must be addressed to the copyright owners. 
Also see special cautions and copyright notices in this volume. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 5^6-7195^ 
Printed in the United States of America 



CONTENTS 

Preface 3 

Introduction: European Drama in the American Theatre 7 

TtiE Plays and the Playwrights 27 

*'Tiger at the Gates Jean Giraudoux gg 

translation bj Christopher Frj 

The Lark Jean Anouilh 90 ,19 

/ adaptation hj Lillian Hellman 

^ Month in THE Country Ivan Turgenev 119 

adaptation by Emljn Williams 

My Three Angels Albert Husson 164 

adaptation by Sam and Bella Spewack* 

Ondine Jean Giraudoux 200 

,,__^,„^— „_„.,„, adaptation bj Maurice Valency 

^^ The Madwoman of Chaillot T") Jean Giraudoux 241 

■""^'^ adaptation by Maurice Valency 

/^ No Exrp.'^ Jean-Paul Sartre 278 

translation by Stuart Gilbert 

Jacobowsky and the Colonel Franz Werfel 300 

^ adaptation by S. N. Behrman 

The Sea Gull Anton Chekhov 348 

translation by Stark Young 

Noah Andre Obey 37^ 

adaptation by Arthur Wilmurt 

VoLPONE Stefan Zweig** 401 

translation by Ruth Langner 

The Late Christopher Bean Rene Fauchois 443 

adaptation by Sidney Howard* 

The Play's the Thing Ferenc Molnar 490 

"■■ ' — --— — adap tation by P. G. Wodehouse - 

As You Desire Me Luigi Pirandello 5^23 

translation by Marta Abba 

The Good Hope Herman Heijermans ^61 

translation by Lilian Saunders <&_ Caroline Heijermans-Houwink 

The World We Live In (The Insect Comedy) Josef and Karel Capek 5^97 

adaptation by Owen Davis 

The Dybbuk S. Ansky 626 

translation by Henry G. Alsberg &^ Winifred Katzin 

From Morn to Midnight Georg Kaiser 655 

translation by Ashley Dukes 

The Passion Flower Jacinto Benavente 680 X:$^ 

translation by John Garrett Underbill 

Redemption Leo Tolstoy 708 

* The plays as printed are so much the work of the adapters that the main authorship is theirs. 
** A free German adaptation of Ben Jonson's Volpone (1606). 



To the Memory 

of 
HELEN GOALWIN 

(December 26, 189^ — August 30, 19^4) 

who combined the graces oj the Old World 

with the good will oJ the New 



PREFACE 



Explanations do not alter the character of a book, but they may be useful in defining 
its limits. The present anthology is not an attempt to represent the modem European 
drama. Instead, it presents that drama as an element or factor in American professional 
stage production that my Crown anthologies of contemporary American plays have 
hitherto neglected. 

The neglect was intentional in my "Best American Plays" collections, which 
presented, and will continue to present, exclusively American playwriting. Readers of 
these compilations would have formed confused impressions of the qualities of 
American playwriting if European plays had been included for the sake of swelling my 
periodic chronicle of the American stage. It was long apparent, however, that the 
chronicle would be flagrantly incomplete unless it were supplemented by one or more 
volumes of European plays. 

The present volume is my first efPort to enlarge the record of American stage 
production since World War I, and the character of the anthology may well explain 
why I postponed publishing it. The conventional compilations of plays from the time 
of Ibsen to the time of Sartre would not serve my purpose. These books — and I 
compiled one of them, A Treasury of the Theatre, myself — are intended for the study 
of the European or the modem drama. The present anthology is intended primarily 
for the study of the American stage, as will any sequel to this volume that may appear 
later. I say "study," because a comparison between the plays printed here and their 
original form will instruct the careful reader about Broadway's way of dealing with 
its imports. It may also dismay him at times, and that can be instructive, too. But it 
would be disingenuous for me to say that in preparing this anthology I hoped to instruct 
the general reader instead of merely interesting him. At most I wanted to show him 
another face of the American theatre, even if, in many instances, it may turn out to be 
the same face that some of us adore and others deplore. I could not have convinced 
my publishers to print so large a volume in so inflationary a period if I had been unable 
to offer a bounty to the public that takes its pleasure wherever it can find it. 

Many of the plays afforded pleasure to a large number of playgoers in the recent or 
not too remote past ; and a number of these pieces also deservedly won a measure of 
regard even in the austerest critical circles that look askance at Broadway adaptations. 
Several of the plays — most notably Tiger at the Gates — brought French wisdom and 
wit into our theatre. Several — especially the plays by Turgenev and Chekhov — 
contributed depth of emotion and high artistry to realistic theatre. Other plays, 
mostly from Central Europe, introduced dramatic experimentation into our theatre 
as well as a note of vexation with the drift of modern society. One thing is certain : 
there was no lack of variety in the dramatic literature we imported from continental 
Europe, not always knowing why and not always knowing what to do with the plays 
once we had acquired them. 

In our haphazard proceedings, moreover, we managed to make the acquaintance of 
many of the writers who gave the European stage substantial claims to distinction. 
It has been possible therefore to bring plays by such contemporary playwrights as 
Giraudoux, Anouilh, Sartre, Werfel, Pirandello, and Molnar into this volume. And 
it is even possible that readers will be curious to examine what English and American 
writers (I include both, since both have made translations and adaptations for our 
stage), what experts in our owti tongue such as Christopher Fry, Ashley Dukes, 



4 PREFACE 

Emlyn Williams, P. G. Wodehouse, S. N. Behrman, Sidney Howard, and Lillian 
Hellman, have done with the work of their foreign colleagues. We have in this 
anthology indeed a double galaxy of playwrights, the original ones and their translators 
and adapters. The latters' contribution also falls within the province ot this chronicle 
and anthology, sometimes quite importantly when a Sidney Howard, for instance, 
domesticates a play by a little known French writer and produces The Late Christopher Bean. 

But it is surely unnecessary, if not indeed inappropriate, for the anthologist to 
advertise his wares when they are so glaringly evident. It is the omissions that require 
explanation. It should be evident, for instance, that no attempt has been made to 
cover the course of European drama from Ibsen's time to our own. I have not included 
any plays by Ibsen and Strindberg because these have already been anthologized with 
great frequency for the past three decades and more, and no new translations by these 
pioneers of modernism have recently made the impact on our theatre that Stark 
Young's Chekhov translations have made since the Lunts appeared in his translation of 
The Sea Gull in the 1937-38 season. Arthur Miller's earnest adaptation of An Enemy of 
the People has been the sole exception, and its effect on Broadway was too slight to 
give Ibsen a position of dominance in our theatre such as Miller's original exercises in 
Judgment Day drama had indirectly assured him. New translations of Strindberg have 
been piinted in recent years (by Elizabeth Sprigge, Arvid Paulson, and Walter 
Johnson) and more will follow. But even the 195^0 centenary of Strindberg failed to 
bring to Broadway more than a run-of-the-mill production of The Father. Nor could a 
more recent effort to revive Miss Julie be set down as particularly successful. Luck in 
our theatre has been all on the side of the pre-Soviet Russians ever since Arthur 
Hopkins presented John Barrymore in Tolstoy's The Living Corpse under the title of 
Redemption in 1 9 1 8 — a fact represented here by the inclusion of that play, the Stark 
Young translation of The Sea Gull, and the Emlyn Williams version of Turgenev's 
A Month in the Country, a play twice successful on our stage. It may also be observed 
that another imbalance in our collection arises from Broadway's partiality for the 
French drama and for one Parisian dramatist in particular — Jean Giraudoux, three of 
whose plays are included in this book. But the modern German drama has had a rather 
erratic career in our theatre, and at neither of its chronological extremes, as represented 
by Hauptmann and Brecht, has it had successful representation on Broadway during 
the period of this survey from World War I to the season of 1955-5^. The one 
exception, an off-Broadway one, has been the long run of Marc Blitzstein's adaptation 
of The Threepenny Opera at the Theatre de Lys in Greenwich Village, and this version 
could not be printed for reasons of litigation. 

The other omissions for which an explanation will not be obvious to experts or 
unnecessary for more fortunate mortals fall into one of two categories. There are 
plays which could not be cleared for this anthology in time for publication, although 
an entire year was consumed in trying to secure clearances. And at this point I could a 
tale unfold that would make each particular hair stand up, if fellow anthologists have 
any left after similar experiences with the foreign rights and the claims and counter- 
claims of producers, agents, authors, translators, and legatees. There are also plays I 
could mention only too easily available for a consideration. They are among their 
authors' very best work, they had long runs, and they made a strong impression on 
Broadway and its satellite theatres. But there would have been no point in reproducing 
such pieces as Cyrano de Bergerac, Liliom, R.U.R. and The Cradle Song in our volume, 
unless they had been successfully re-translated or re-adapted. They have long appeared 
in standard anthologies that serve another, if by no means less justifiable, purpose. 
There are, besides, many worthy European plays that have thus far made little headway 
in our professional precincts, which it is no longer necessary to introduce in print at 
least, since that important task has been executed by Mr. Eric Bentley. All these 
plays and others that I hope to present in a supplementary volume belong to a history of 
European drama. But they do not necessarily belong in the present volume. 



PREFACE s 

Perhaps mention should also be made here — but then, again, mention should not 
be made — of continental plays omitted because of my unwillingness to do the original 
authors the injustice of perpetuating their work in unreadable, if more or less accurate, 
translations or in more or less readable but flagrantly distorted versions. Some free 
adaptations have been admitted into this anthology for one reason or another which will 
be evident, I hope. But even a tolerant, if not indeed overindulgent, anthologist will 
draw the line somewhere between more or less understandable modifications of the 
original text and downright incompetence or mayhem. The theatre has invited protests 
against high-handed appropriation and distortion of play material ever since Roman 
playwrights helped themselves to Greek comedies in the third and second centuries 
B.C. The fellowship of sinners has had branches in every theatrical capital in every age, 
and Broadway since World War I has actually been less culpable than in previous 
periods. Yet the massacre of innocent European scripts continues with seasonal 
regularity. 

We are inveterate empirics all — that is, all of us who are in showbusiness or try to 
get into it. And the fun really starts when Broadway empiricism proves howlingly 
disastrous, which is likely to be the case if the European play already adapted by a 
British cousin is adapted again by an American hack and that adaptation of an adaptation 
is further adapted by the Broadway producer and his director before, during, and 
after rehearsals. That is when showbusiness really becomes showbusiness and every- 
body loses money as well as face. It is one of the traditions of Broadway, from which 
departures are as rare as they are praiseworthy, never to let a play alone until ministering 
hands have squeezed it as dry as an overworked lemon. The reader of this anthology 
has been spared the most mutilated bodies of plays that had a shapely existence in their 
original habitat. And this just about exhausts the summary of qualifications, if it is also 
understood that the "modern" European play in this collection may be as old as 
A Month in the Country, completed by Turgenev at the midpoint of the last century, 
provided it found a haven here after World War I, which is the wavering boundary-line 
between our old theatre and our new. 

This much for those who will scrutinize the selections. For other, and probably 
happier mortals, the table of contents will speak for itself. The selections appear in 
reversed chronological order, from the most recent productions to the oldest. Among 
the first plays in the volume are several which represent the noteworthy revival of 
French dramatic writing since the early 1930's. In the rest of the book will be found 
examples of the kinds of dramatic writing that won our attention especially in the 
"sophisticated" and "experimental" nineteen-twenties. The selections exhibit 
Central European sophistication in the Molnar vein that once entranced Broadway 
and can still beguile it, as The Plaj's The Thing proved in its second Broadway production 
during the 1948- 1949 season; expressionistic fancies in the mood of Kaiser and the 
Capek brothers which were paralleled by native works such as O'Neill's The Hairy Ape 
and Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine; and a variety of realistic or critical works from 
the Continent that our still somewhat virginal stage before World War I would have 
considered too earnest, too raw, or too irreverent, 

John Gassner 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

To the persons who made this collection possible, the present writer is immensely grateful. I 
am particularly sensible of indebtedness to the following individuals, as well as to the publishers 
and owners of the plays : To Marta Abba for making Pirandello's As You Desire Me available to me 
and for translating the play, which had been available to English readers only in a translation that 
the late Samuel Putnam had made without regard to any stage production. To Robert Simon, one 
of Crown's publishers, for his special guidance* and help. To Leah Salisbury, the agent for 



6 PREFACE 

Christopher Fry, and Oxford University Press for the very special permission to anthologize 
Tiger at the Gates. To Lillian Hellman and to Donald Klopfer of Random House for the permission 
to include The Lark, and to Miss Marjorie Currey and Random House for the release of the 
adaptations of The Madwoman of Chaillot and Ondine and My Three Angels. To the publishing firm of 
Charles Scribner's Sons for the release of The Passion Flower and the Stark Young translation of 
The Sea Gull. To Viking Press for a somewhat complicated clearance of Volpone, a somewhat 
complicated "property" since it is by Austrian Stefan Zweig out of Ben Jonson's original 
Volpone. To Liveright Publishing Corporation for The Djbbuk. To Alfred A. Knopf and to 
Hamish Hamilton, Ltd, for No Exit. To A. D, Peters of London for facilitating clearance on 
Ashley Dukes' version of Georg Kaiser's From Morn to Midnight and to Mr. Dukes himself, a 
master of the English language, for his granting of the permission. To Dr. Edmond Pauker, 
the Molnar Estate, and Paramount Pictures Corporation for The Plaj^s the Thing. To Mr. William 
Koppelmann of Brandt and Brandt for his strenuous efforts in clearing Jacobowsky and the Colonel 
and the Emlyn Williams version of A Month in the Country, and to Mr. Williams himself for his 
favorable response to my interest while he was busily engaged in production. To Arthur Wilmurt 
for his ready consent to the inclusion of his version of Noah. I am, finally, greatly indebted to 
Mr. M. Abbott van Nostrand of Samuel French for his kind co-operation in making The Late 
Christopher Bean, The World We Live In and The Good Hope available to me. Indeed, the co-operation 
of the above-mentioned individuals and organizations was generous enough to supply me with 
plays which could form the beginnings of a second volume. Finally, I am grateful for editorial 
help to Herbert Michelman of Crown Publishers and to my wife Mollie Gassner, who must be 
getting tired of seeing her name in her husband's books but who has only herself to blame, since 
it is her fabulous proficiency that deprives her of anonymity. 

J.G. 



Introduction 

EUROPEAN DRAMA IN THE AMERICAN THEATRE 

By John Gassner 



I. 

We, in a new country, were ever borrowers, although we were resisters, too. We 
started to resist European influence soon after the Declaration of Independence, and 
for the next three quarters of a century our stage abounded in local personalities while 
our plays were filled with native wood-notes wild of Yankee dialect. We created the 
stage- Yankee, upright and shrewd, to maintain New World wholesomeness against 
aristocratic pretense and Old World decadence. And in our effort to make the most 
of what was our own or took to be our own, we even established the Indian as a stage 
hero. Having glorified the outspoken paleface we went on to discover the great-hearted 
redskin. The noble savage Metamora, Carabasset, or Tecumseh joined the grease-paint 
company of such "true blue sons of liberty" as Jonathan Postfree, Lot Sap Sago, and 
the Adam Trueman whom Mrs. Mowatt's Fashion presented as the natural enemy of 
European-infiltrated American life. Our resistance to subversion from alien shores was 
not so consistent, however, that we did not even then accept the foreign play and the 
American, or British, adaptation as a staple of showbusiness. 

Our first professional dramatist, William Dunlap, made a thriving trade of skewering 
French and German plays for American consumption. The vogue of Kotzebue deli- 
catessen was strong in the land, for Europe had developed a taste for romantic melo- 
drama and so had we. Even without borrowings from the British Isles, our foreign debt 
mounted in the last century. Our obligations to the European continent grew even 
when the nominal creditor was an English or Irish playwright, since the British theatre 
itself was now a heavy importer of continental goods. Many of the one hundred and 
fifty or more plays turned out by Dionysius Lardner Boucicault, for example, were 
translations or near-translations from the French. By the time of his death in 1890, in 
the palmy days before an international copyright agreement, this actor-dramatist of 
Irish extraction, less colorfully known as Dion Boucicault, had acquitted himself at least 
as well as his American cousins in the business of picking up unconsidered trifles from 
the European stage. (Later, he became a citizen of our theatre, too, for he started to 
divide his time between America and England. ) A case that may challenge Holly- 
wood's supremacy in the multiple-authorship derby has been dug up by me from what 
I hope are reliable sources. The case is that of the early American playwright John 
Howard Payne's adaptation of Kotzebue 's Das Kind der Liebe under the title of Lovers^ 
Vows after the original piece had already been adapted in England and America by 
Mrs. Inchbald, Benjamin Thompson, Anne Plumptre, and William Dunlap. Since 
Augustus Friedrich Ferdinand Kotzebue, who wTote over two hundred now unre- 
garded plays but was assassinated in 1 8 1 9 for political rather than artistic reasons, was a 
German who worked for a time in Austria, then directed the Court theatre in Russia, 
then went to Weimar, and finally became Russian consul-general in Prussia, a trans- 
lation such as Lovers' Vows may be considered less of a play than an international 
incident. 

I am not aware that there were any audible protests against this early U.N. or 
UNESCO manifestation. The virus of xenophobia actually struck our stage people only 
with the coming of Ibsen. The arrival of yl DolVs House was tame enough. It reached us 
under the title of Thora, for Nora had become Thora, and the role of the incipient 
' 'free woman' ' was played by the disarmingly attractive Polish actress Helena Modjeska, 
who had emigrated with her husband to California in 1876. Moreover, the play that 



8 INTRODUCTION 

had exploded on the European stage to the accompaniment of groans from conserva- 
tives had acquired a happy ending in transit. A reviewer for The Louisville Courier- 
Journal reported on December 6 , 1883 that after the disillusioned wife dons a street 
dress with the intention of leaving her husband, the latter "argues and pleads in vain, 
but finally, through the medium of the children, some indefinite talk about 'religion,' 
there is a reunion, a rushing together and a falling curtain on a happy family tableau." 
The reviewer, as indifferent to Ibsen's intentions as the anonymous adapter had been, 
thought that a more consistent ending to the play would have been Nora's — that is, 
Thora's — death. But his was a mild reservation. Opposition to the subversive Ibsen 
was to come not from this first viewing of A DolVs House, but from the accumulating 
evidence of a growing number of published plays that Ibsenism, as the dean of dra- 
matic criticism at the turn of the century put it, was "rank, deadly pessimism," a 
commodity for which Americans had never been known to have any use. The doyen, 
William Winter, who admitted he could not forgive even "the despondent, hysterical, 
inflammatory Jeremiah in the Bible," summed up the case against Ibsen in choice 
remonstrances : Ibsen's views, once adopted, "would disrupt society. ' ' The Norwegian 
playwright was one of those "who murder to dissect," and a reformer like Ibsen, 
' 'who calls you to crawl with him into a sewer, merely to see and breathe its feculence, 
is a pest." 

It is difficult to say when the resistance to Ibsen began to give way. It would be 
better to say perhaps that despite William Winter's strenuous objections there was no 
widespread resistance to Ibsen if for no other reason than that there was also no great 
passion for his work in our land and he had no doughty tum-of-the-century champions 
comparable to William Archer and Bernard Shaw in England. Ibsen, it may be said, 
was both quietly accepted and quietly ignored by us before World War I. And his 
Swedish colleague Strindberg also encountered little opposition from us, if for no 
other reason than that he won no particular victories. It was the old-fashioned "well- 
built" problem play, developed by the French two or three decades before the appear- 
ance of ^ Doir s House in i 879, that really had some vogue in pre-war America. Muck- 
raking journalism, trust-busting, and rising liberal sentiment favored the melodramatic 
or sentimental treatment of a social problem such as municipal corruption far more 
than it promoted either Ibsenism or the European brand of naturalism represented by 
Hauptmann's The Weavers or Gorki's The Lower Depths. In sum, the pre-modern Euro- 
pean drama had long flourished here while the pioneer playwrights from Scandinavia, 
like their British compeer Shaw, had, astonishingly, come and gone with little fanfare 
before the end of the first World War. As Joseph Wood Krutch noted so accurately 
in his American Drama Since 1918, Ibsen and Shaw were known on our stage by isolated 
successes, and even less may be said for the playwright both held in awe, the dis- 
concerting August Strindberg. "Indeed," wrote Mr. Krutch, "these foreign masters 
were beginning to be almost passe as literature without having exerted a very profound 
influence on the native stage . . . By 191^ nevs^ thought was no longer so very new." 

It remained for the "new theatre" movement of the second decade of our century 
really to discover the modern European drama for America. Although a few critics 
and travelers, among whom James Huneker had been the most articulate, had called 
attention to the leading playwrights of the continent, only stage productions could 
give their plays some measure of importance as living theatre. By now many plays once 
associated with the advancing theatre have lost their aura for us, and very few indeed 
have any value as literature. But they were distinctly important to progress-making 
and progress-shouting stalwarts. Nor was it the dramatic work of Ibsen and other 
European realists or naturalists that entranced the "art-theatre" groups that were 
making theatrical history in America after 1910. They constituted the first "art- 
theatre" movement we had ever known in the United States — previously, we had 
known only stock companies and touring English and American stars of the first and 



INTRODUCTION 9 

second magnitude. And art was now more likely to be associated with poetic than with 
realistic play writing. 

Considerably symptomatic was the vogue of Maurice Maeterlinck, still the prophet 
of a new dispensation when the Washington Square Players, the most European- 
oriented of the amateurs, began operations in 191 6. Maeterlinck, who had made an 
impression in the theatre a quarter of a century before, still represented progress as 
the exponent of dramatic symbolism, atmosphere, and "style," for he had made 
much of nuance and suggestion in contrast to the sharp outlines and the concreteness 
of realistic drama. His short pieces, vintage 1890-95^, were examples of so-called static 
drama and were still considered ultra-modern experiments. It was progress for us to 
forego the dramatic contrivances of the "well-made play" at about the same time that 
modern fiction was being liberated from the machinery of plot. When the present 
writer got to know the youthful Theatre Guild, the Broadway successor of the 
Washington Square Players, the quality in a play that invited instant condemnation was 
contrivance. To dismiss a new play from consideration by the Guild it was necessary 
only to call it "contrived." A symbolical or expressionist play, however was not 
called contrived, nor was a drama charged however vertiginously with so-called 
modern thought. 

Maeterlinck's little poetic masterpiece of the year 1894, Vlnterieure, was a special 
favorite. The Washington Square Players rarely omitted Interior or some other piece 
by Maeterlinck (such as The Miracle of St. Anthony, and The Death of Tintagiles) from 
their programs of one-acters. And if Maeterlinck engrossed our early, if fickle, interest 
(we soon tired of "Maeterlincked sweetness"), so did his Russian symbolist disciple 
Leonid Andreyev. The Washington Square Players approved the latter 's one-act 
plunge into profound pessimism. Love of One' s Neighbor, and his even more cheerless 
full-length allegory. The Life oj Man. They staged the latter in 1 9 1 7, and when they reor- 
ganized themselves in 19 1 9 as The Theatre Guild, they waited only two seasons before 
presenting the only slightly less pessimistic and symbolist He Who Gets Slapped — this 
time, however, reaping a Broadway bonanza with their fidelity to the author. Kissing 
cousins of Maeterlinck and Andreyev were also made welcome by the young Guild 
when the group presented Nicholas Evreinov's The Chief Thing, Emile Verhaeren's 
The Cloister, Paul Claudel's The Tidings Brought to Mary, and Benavente's commedia delV 
arte social fantasy Los intereses creados. The last-mentioned, presented on April 9, 19 19, 
under the title of The Bonds of Interest was, in fact, the Guild's very first production. It 
is worth noting, too, that the Theatre Guild's first Molnar production, Liliom, was a 
symbolic fantasy, as was its first Shaw production. Heartbreak House. Both plays were 
given in the Guild's third year, in the season of 1920-21. 

Even when the advance-guard took heed of Ibsen, it was mainly the romantic and 
symbol-favoring playwright that attracted them, ?eer Gynt was unsuccessfully presented 
by the Theatre Guild in its fifth season, early in 1923, and The Wild Duck was ably 
produced by The Actors' Company in the season of 1924-25-. And favored at Eva Le 
Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre during the nineteen-twenties were the more or 
less symbolist dramas The Master Builder and John Gabriel Borkman. Ibsen's masterpiece 
of realistic drama, Hedda Gabler, naturally attracted Broadway-minded managements, 
too, but chiefly because it contained the star part of Hedda. There was true magni- 
ficence in the role when the stunning Emily Stevens, Mrs. Fiske's tall and exotic blonde 
niece, played it on Broadway. And the role was an obvious choice for other out- 
standing American actresses such as Mrs. Fiske herself, Nance O'Neil, Alia Nazimova, 
and Eva Le Gallienne. As a matter of fact, Hedda was first played in London, in 1891, 
by an American actress — Elizabeth Robins — and she, too, gave a performance that 
was considered remarkable. Perhaps Hedda should have been an American woman 
from the start. 

Ghosts, to which the Washington Square Players condescended with a production in 
May 1 9 1 7 , may be put down as another exception to the rule that our advanced groups 



lo INTRODUCTION 

favored the non-realistic side of Ibsen's career. But it has long been evident that a 
mechanically realistic view^ of this vs^ork results in a boring production. One pedestrian 
production, given in the 193^-36 season, was indeed redeemed by the luminous 
performance of Mrs. Alving by Alia Nazimova, but Nazimovas are as rare as dull 
dramatic productions are numerous. Ghosts^ vs^ith its symbolic action and Fall of the 
House of Usher atmosphere, could commend itself to venturesome groups as a w^ork of 
the imagination rather than as an outdated expose of life in late nineteenth-century 
Norway — or as the kind of clinical play that the discovery of salvarsan had deprived 
of its terrors. 

And much the same thing can be said concerning that other founding father of 
modernism, August Strindberg. In his case, too, it was less the formidable naturalist 
than the innovator of imaginative dramaturgy who prevailed, except that his psycho- 
logical tremors attracted the intellectuals of an age callowly fascinated by the revelations 
of Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Freud. The Theatre Guild was less than two years old 
when it took a reckless plunge with one of Strindberg 's most devastating dramas of 
sexual conflict The Dance of Death. This production came in the second season, on 
May 9, 1920, a few months after the Guild had produced Tolstoy's powerful sex 
tragedy The Power of Darkness. But the Strindberg play was not selected for production 
as an orthodox piece of naturalism ; O'Neill's view, given in the Provincetovsm Playbill 
of January 3, 1924, was the prevailing one for art-theatre devotees: "He [Strindberg] 
carried naturalism to a logical attainment of such intensity that if the work of any other 
playwright is to be called 'naturalism,' we must classify a play like The Dance of Death 
as 'super-naturalism,' and place it in a class by itself. . ." And the Washington 
Square Players in producing the psychological oddity of Pariah as early as May 19 17, 
and the Provincetowoi Players, as late as 1924, in presenting The Spook Sonata (now 
more accurately titled The Ghost Sonata) , paid homage to the Strindberg the art-theatre 
movement really admired as a playwright rather than as an oracle of the sex-duel. 
That is, the Strindberg who, in addition to taking the drama into a dense forest of 
symbols, churned up time and space, reality and dream, violently enough to become 
the originator of expressionism more than a decade before it became an advanced art 
neurosis in Central Europe. 

It was for the playbill printed in connection with that last-mentioned production 
of the Provincetown's season of 1923-1924 that O'Neill wrote a celebrated tribute to 
Strindberg, whom he considered greater than Ibsen and to whom he paid the tribute of 
imitation. The American playwright's monologue Before Breakfast, written in 19 16, 
recalls Strindberg's tour deforce, The Stronger, and his full-length play of the season of 
1 92 3- 1 924, Welded, is a typical, if less than successful, Strindbergian sex-drama. More 
importantly, the influence of Strindberg, openly acknowledged by O'Neill at the same 
time that he rejected the imputation of influence by the German expressionists, was 
apparent in the imaginative dramaturgy of The Emperor Jones and The Hairy Ape which the 
Provincetown produced in the fall of 1920 and the spring of 1922 respectively. The 
production of The Spook Sonata, which was directed by Robert Edmond Jones and James 
Light and had Clare Eames, Mary Blair, Mary Morris, and Walter Abel in the cast, was 
an ambitious one. It did not succeed and it did not reach Broadway. But it indicated 
the direction in which young theatre people looked then as now. The Provincetown 
Players, indeed, looked again in the same direction, though without making any 
greater impression on the American public, when they opened a production of 
Strindberg's symbolic fantasy The Dream Play, the next season, in January 192^. It is 
indeed curious that at the present writing, more than forty years afte^* the beginning 
of the American "art" or "little" theatre movement, a strongly stylized art of 
theatre — whatever the label under which it reaches us — is and almost has to be the 
rallying cause of the new progressive groups. 

In the note on The Spook Sonata, O'Neill spoke not only for himself, but also to a 
considerable degree for our art theatre movement, especially for his production 



INTRODUCTION ii 

associates, the critic Kenneth Macgowan and the designer Robert Edmond Jones. 
(The trio produced Welded, The Fountain, and The Great God Brown together. ) In praising 
this "behind-life" drama, he maintained that the "old" naturalism or realism no 
longer "applies." He described it as an earlier generation's "daring aspirations toward 
self- recognition by holding the family kodak up to ill-nature." "But to us," he 
declared, "their old audacity is blague^ ^ and "we have endured too much from the 
banality of surfaces." Protesting against "fourth-wall" technique in drama he an- 
nounced, "We are ashamed of having peeked through so many keyhoes, squinting 
always at heavy, uninspired bodies — the fat facts," and he added confidently that 
"we have been sick with appearances and are convalescing." 

There would come a time, after the stockmarket crash of 1929, when a departure 
from dramatic realism was more likely to be denounced as retrograde than acclaimed 
as advanced. It would be scorned as irresponsible estheticism unless the non-realistic 
technique was tied to the kite of left-wing social convictions, as in the case of Waiting 
for lefty and Bury the Dead. But O'Neill was speaking for the advanced elements of the 
earlier generation coming to maturity during the prosperous and sophisticated 
nineteen-twenties. And the "banality of surfaces" was the very trademark of the 
commercial managements the little art theatre groups had sprung up to defy and, if 
possible, to destroy. They could entertain some respect only for the early Theatre 
Guild created by former members of the Washington Square Players, and for a few 
Broadway managers such as Winthrop Ames, the producer of Maeterlinck's successful 
Blue Bird in 1910, and Arthur Hopkins, with whom even so advanced an artist as 
Robert Edmond Jones was able to collaborate in designing such an imaginative 
production as the famous Macbeth of 1 92 i . And, characteristically, when these manage- 
ments produced a play it, too, was likely to be something romantic like Sem Benelli's 
The jest, the drama of a Renaissance esthete's fine Italian revenge on a philistine bully,* 
which Hopkins produced with great success in 1919. When the better managements 
did give Broadway a strong naturalistic work such as Jacinto Benavente's La Malquerida 
or The Passion Flower, produced in 1920, the effect was not considered commonplace 
owing to the extraordinary intensity of this story of illicit passion and owing to the 
esoteric effect of Spanish peasant tragedy. Peasant drama, even when noted for its 
uncompromising realism, has usually had some poetic quality, if nothing more than 
that produced by primitivism in the environment and by manifestations of elemental 
passion and conflict. And peasant dialect has also been usually accounted an approxi- 
mation of poetry, even when the language has fallen short of Synge's prose-poetry. 
It was probably a poetry of primitiveness that led Arthur Hopkins to produce Gerhart 
Hauptmann's naturalistic story of lust and infanticide, Rose Bernd, with Ethel Barrymore 
in the title role, and to win the approval of advanced circles in 1922, although the 
play was, like other pungent European imports, a Broadway failure. 

Usually, European realism and naturalism fared poorly here. Thus Therese Raquin, 
Zola's celebrated naturalistic showpiece of the year 1873, had to wait until the 1940's 
before it was seen as a full-fledged Broadway production in an adaptation by Thomas 
Job. Sam Shubert presented Becque's La Parisienne as early as 1904, but with 
Rejane, in French, for only three performances; and Anne Nichols was barely able to 
squeeze four performances out of this celebrated naturalistic comedy with the assistance 
of Mme. Simone. The same author's formidable drama Les Corbeaux, known in English 
as The Vultures, never even reached Broadway — not even in French, since it has no 
stellar role for an actress. So far as I have been able to determine. New Yorkers never 
saw a full-fledged production of it in English until Erwin Piscator staged it at the New 
School for Social Research in the nineteen-forties, with Elaine Stritch playing the 

* I should have liked to present this play here. But the Edward Sheldon version used by Hopkins was 
apparently never published and the English version now available, only as a typed copy distributed by the 
Walter H. Baker Company of Boston, is the joint work of Benelli and a Dr. Royce Emerson. And the latter 
is listed under a 1939 copyright as sole author since Benelli's death in 1949. 



12 INTRODUCTION 

youngest daughter. Hauptmann's naturalistic social drama The Weavers was only 
moderately successful when staged by Augustin Duncan, Isadora's brother, on 
December 14, 1915^. Helped by the rising tide of socialist or, at least, pro-labor 
sentiment at that time, the production had 87 performances, surely a modest run by 
comparison with the 377 performances rolled up by Avery Hopwood's now forgotten 
Fair and Warmer which had opened some five weeks earlier. And even so titillating a 
play as Arthur Schnitzler's Affairs ofAnatol ran only 72 performances in the fall of 1 9 1 2 
with a cast that included John Barrymore and Doris Keane. One of the most powerful 
pieces of Central European naturalism. The She-Devil by Karl Schoenherr, met with 
complete indifference, as did other noteworthy realistic dramas, such as the same 
author's Children's Tragedy and the grim "tragedies of sex" by the mordant Frank 
Wedekind. The Washington Square Players staged his brilliant one-actor The Tenor^ 
but when the group became the Theatre Guild it abandoned this gifted, if demanding, 
author. 

There is little point, however, in multiplying the evidence that the first revolution 
in the modem European theatre, that of realism and of the so-called free theatres, 
won less adherence from us and especially from our advanced circles than did the 
second revolution. That revolution was "romantic" (and one should cite here the 
most strikingly popular instances — the interest in Cyrano de Bergerac and The 
Miracle), "symbolist," and vaguely or violently anti-realistic. When our commer- 
cially disposed theatre favored realism, it did not rely so much on imports from the 
Continental stage as upon home-made and British products which were closer and 
more congenial to us. And when we began to turn to a more challenging brand of realism 
in the turbulent nineteen-thirties, the new avant-garde of a more or less leftist per- 
suasion tended to dismiss the realistic European drama as rather bourgeois and 
demode. By then the realistic masterpieces w^ere already "old," and they seemed even 
older than they were because their emphasis was patently "reformist" rather than 
"revolutionary." The Weavers came to be regarded as a confused and misleading play 
because the action rose to a climax with the weavers' frantic destruction, rather than 
Marxian seizure, of "the means of production." Even native topical plays of such 
recent origin as the nineteen-twenties had become passe; how, then, could European 
plays written as early as 1890, 1900, or 1910 possess a viable "social significance?" 



2. 

Nevertheless, it would be inaccurate to say that dramatic realism had entirely 
ceased to be a progressive cause for writers and producers of 191 <;^. Even the realistic 
plays that won some measure of success from 191 5^ to 1930 — plays such as Redemption 
and The Passion Flower^ included in the present volume — once represented somewhat 
bold ventures for their American producers. 

Arthur Hopkins was considered an imprudent adventurer among the Broadway 
managers not merely when he staged his Poesque Macbeth with Robert Edmond Jones's 
non-representational black hangings, silvery masks, and sets of arches, but also when he 
presented Tolstoy's social drama The Living Corpse under the somewhat sentimental 
title of Redemption. Its problem-play aspects, as a protest against the marriage laws of 
Russia under the Czars, were hardly startling to Broadway in 191 9. Enoch Arden 
complications — that is, the hero Fedya's pretended suicide in his effort to free his 
wife for a better marriage than she has had with him — were not as such strange to 
Hopkins' public. But the picture of Fedya's sordid life as roue and tramp, and the 
relentless course of the action that carries Fedya to a real suicide after the faked one 
instead of culminating in a reconciliation with his wife — all this was still an alien 
pessimism in 19 19. 

I possess a crumbling copy of the New York Tribune review of April g, 1919, in 



INTRODUCTION 13 

which a reviewer declares that Tolstoy's play is an ''unfortunate choice" for the 
American stage. The curious wording of the impeachment against naturalism or, 
indeed, naturalness in playwriting follows: '*In spite of the fact that he has given us 
people like ourselves — selfish, sentimental persons, desiring and creating love, 
persons moving according to their own definite characteristics and unaffected by the 
attempted and forced happiness — his lesson is obscured by their very naturalness. 
Then how can people like ourselves teach us anything." And in the next sentence the 
American public is urged to "call to itself an American Tolstoy who can present the 
identical theme of 'Redemption' and by his very understanding of our essential national 
idealism dispel the clouds which rise of necessity between us and a Russian idealism . . . 
and . . . instruct us where the Russian 'genius' merely makes us titter." The reference 
to "idealism" is, I take it, mainly a reference to Fedya's redeeming himself with the 
sacrifice of his life when the law, discovering that he is alive, threatens to destroy the 
happiness of his wife, who has remarried since his disappearance. Following this 
endeavor to direct our gaze toward ideals, the reviewer becomes lyrical and promises 
us, through "an American Fedya," the attainment of "beauty so exquisite that what 
poor man can achieve seems worse than nothing." After these bizarre statements it 
will be evident that Hopkins was not "playing safe" with The Living Corpse although he 
appears to have smoothed out its wrinkles in offering Redemption to the American 
public. 

There was risk, too, in an American production of Jacinto Benavente's most 
powerful realistic drama La Malquerida, a work which this Nobel Prize author of more 
than 170 plays wrote in 191 2 while he was Spain's most progressive writer of drama. 
Staged under the title of The Passion Flower in 1920, it owed more than a little of its 
popular success (it had 866 performances in New York and on tour) to the intense 
performance of Nance O'Neil. It was the most successful of Benavente's or, despite 
the popularity of Martinez Sierra's The Cradle Song, any other Spanish playwright's 
work in America. It also had the benefit of a modem psychological approach to a 
tragedy of love since Benavente traced the growth of an illicit passion between a 
peasant girl and her stepfather. It was a passion hemmed in by convention and, more 
than that, by the dread of incest that the popularization of Freudian teachings was 
making known in America. Everything favored the popularity of a play that deserved 
success as one of the few genuine tragedies of the realistic stage but could easily have 
missed it under less favorable circumstances. The Passion Flower rode the crest of a 
wave of anti-puritanical candor in the literature of the twenties, and the elemental 
passion that sweeps the characters from their conventional moorings and lifts them 
beyond the commonplaces of desire was impressively dramatic. But, for all that, the 
play was not a "safe" choice for producers in 1920. 

Not the least obvious choice for an American repertoire in the twenties, too, was 
The Good Hope, a play by a little known Dutch spokesman for social conscience in the 
theatre, Herman Heijermans. He was hardly three years dead and all but completely 
forgotten, if indeed he had ever been known, in our world when Eva Le Gallienne 
presented The Good Hope at her Civic Repertory Theatre in the fall of 1927. Moreover, 
the subject of criminal negligence in Dutch shipping at the turn of the century was 
hardly shattering enough to command interest beyond the Netherlands a quarter of a 
century after the original production of the play. But as Brooks Atkinson noted, it was 
evident that Heijermans "loved life more intensely than theses." With its vital 
characterization and vigorous picturing of common life. The Good Hope managed to 
escape the numbness that besets most problem-playwriting. The play did not thrust 
forth claims to importance such as were advanced by The Weavers; or by Gorki's The 
Lower Depths, a masterpiece of Russian naturalism that, like Hauptmann's drama, had 
no particular public in our twenties and was, curiously, also ignored even by social- 
minded theatres in the next decade. (Arthur Hopkins had presented the Russian work 
in December, 19 19, without making any dent in the American theatre with it. The 



14 INTRODUCTION 

late Bums Mantle did not even see fit to include Gorki's drama in a "Best Plays of 
1919-20" list which contained such "best plays" as James Forbes's The Famous Mrs. 
Fair, Salisbury Field's Wedding Bells, and Rachel Barton Butler's Mamma's Affair . . .) 
Still, in receiving a w^ell-attended stage production from Eva Le Gallienne and winning 
the regard of responsible reviewers, The Good Hope helped to give European realism 
some respectable representation in the New York theatre. 

Our theatre, however, was to become familiar with still more distinguished 
realistic artistry when it interested itself in the work of the Russian playwrights after 
staging Tolstoy's Redemption. The stock of Turgenev and Chekhov has risen higher, 
decade after decade, while Ibsen's realistic stock has tended, on the whole, to decline 
almost steadily and Strindberg's was almost wholly ignored before the centenary of 
his birth in 1949. (Since then, Broadway and its tributary stages in Manhattan have had 
productions, if not particularly successful ones, of The Father, Creditors, Miss Julie, and 
Comrades. But we have yet to do justice to this remarkably difficult dramatist on the 
American stage.) The most rapid rise was registered by Chekhov, who has indeed 
come to be regarded in both the English and the American theatre as the most at- 
tractive and perdurable playwright of continental Europe. But an earlier "Chekhovian' ' 
playwright, a master of characterization and dramatic nuance, also won some share of 
recognition. Russia's second great novelist, Ivan Turgenev (the first was surely Nikolai 
Gogol), who never dreamed of acquiring a place in the theatre even in his native 
country, made an enviable impression in New York twice within about a quarter of 
a century with an almost accidental chef d'oeuvre, A Month in the Country, written as far 
back as 1849. The first impression was made by the Theatre Guild production of the 
1 929- 1 930 season. Nazimova played the part of the provincial lady whose passion for 
her son's tutor exploded tragicomic complications in the static world of country life. 
The cast included, in addition to Mme. Nazimova, Dudley Digges, Henry Travers, 
Alexander Kirkland, and Eunice Stoddard. "As perfect a performance as any American 
group of players could be expected to give," was the verdict of Arthur Ruhl in the 
New York Herald Tribune, and many other reviewers concurred. The second impressive 
occasion was a production of the season of 195^^-19^6 by the young Phoenix Theatre. 
Uta Hagen gave a glowing performance in Nazimova 's part and Michael Redgrave, 
who had performed in A Month in the Country in London, staged the play with un- 
common skill. The director of the first-mentioned production, Rouben Mamoulian, 
used his own adaptation of the standard translation by M. S. Mandell; the Phoenix 
used an admirable adaptation Emlyn Williams had prepared a dozen years before for 
a British production. It is this adaptation that is presented in this anthology through 
the courtesy of Mr. Williams. 

Whether in these adaptations or in unadapted form, A Month in the Country — "an 
entrancing cotillion of love, no less endearing because it is desperate," Redgrave has 
called it — is a beautiful play ; and it is gratifying to know that New York has been able 
to respond to its excellence when given an opportunity to view it in adequate pro- 
ductions. It is transparently a work of the best kind of realism there is — inner realism, 
because the author was primarily interested in his characters, remaining notably close 
to most of them while maintaining the objectivity of a cool observer. "What do I care 
whether a woman perspires in the middle of her back or under her arms?" wrote 
Turgenev. "I do not care how or where she sweats ; I want to know how she thinks." 
Turgenev 's manner in his hundred-year-old play, moreover, is one of extraordinary 
naturalness. The plot seems almost an inadvertence, as if the action, mostly a flurry of 
unwonted feelings, were an intrusion into an otherwise placid round of existence. 
Yet several lives have been strongly affected by a restive woman's infatuation with her 
child's unresponsive tutor. Haifa century before Chekhov, Turgenev had evolved an 
art of chiaroscuro, of half-lights and sudden illuminations, as well as a type of drama 
neither tragic nor predominantly comic, which provides an introduction to the com- 
plexities of human nature. 



INTRODUCTION i^ 

And if American reviewers and playgoers could take to Turgenev, they were bound 
to respond even more fully to Chekhov. One need only compare the earlier author's 
masterpiece with Chekhov's major plays to discover that the nineteenth century has 
vanished and that we are in a world of unrest verging on the inner and outer upheavals 
we associate with our own century. Stanislavsky could declare with some degree of 
accuracy that A Month in the Country was "built on the most delicate curves of love 
experience," but there is more weighty and far-reaching matter in The Cherry Orchard ^ 
"where," as Michael Redgrave put it, "the trees fall one by one under the axe of 
social change." And surely Mr. Redgrave is correct in pointing out that Chekhov's 
predecessor was less Turgenev than the social realist Ostrovsky, who at this writing 
still remains to be discovered for Broadway even though the Moscow Art Theatre 
introduced him here about three decades ago with one of its productions. In the nine- 
teen- tens, Chekhov was virtually unknown on the New York stage save for productions 
of his little "vaudeville" The Boor, given under the title of A Bear by the Washington 
Square Players in 191^ and 1 9 1 7 , and a brief venture by the same group with The Sea 
Gull in 19 1 6. It is not surprising that the Washington Square Players' successor, the 
Theatre Guild, should have given Chekhov his most memorable production on 
Broadway some twenty years later with the same play in preference to Chekhov's 
other masterpieces, which thus far have failed to reach Broadway proper in 
Stark Young's distinguished translations. 

The many productions on Broadway, whatever their actual merit — usually consider- 
able, yet rarely as just to the author as the Theatre Guild's Sea Gull — and the off- 
Broadway David Ross productions of other Chekhov plays in the mid-fifties — confirmed 
a mounting reputation. During the last quarter of a century it seemed indeed that the 
Russian playwright, rather than Ibsen, was the founder of our century's realistic art. 
Our numerous tributes to Chekhov's artistry, whatever snares he may have unin- 
tentionally set for imitators, are entirely deserved. We don't want to give up realism, 
yet we would willingly discard the demonstrations without subtlety and the arid 
characterizations without nuance that we have so often had to accept along with 
realism of environment and a sociological point of view. Chekhov, more than any of 
the old masters of modem drama, showed, apparently without strain, that our wishes 
are not unrealizable. His example has been dangerous only in the one respect that a 
writer cannot will himself into writing like Chekhov. An author would first have to be 
Chekhov, and there could be only one such individual. Chekhov's work has pointed in 
certain directions for English and American writers, but they have had to go it alone — 
as O'Casey did in Juno and the Pajcock, as Odets did in Awake and Sing, and as Enid 
Bagnold has done, more recently and, to my mind, less impressively, in The Chalk 
Garden. And Chekhov himself could have taught American and English playwrights this 
lesson of productive individuality : for all his affinities to other Russian novelists and 
playwrights, he did not write as a member of any school. 

"Beautiful, fragmentary, elliptical" ... "It was not the speech of the character 
that interested him, but the motive for the speech" . . . "the little gray moth-like 
theme of man's pursuit of the unattainable" . . . "the wonderful range of these 
characters" — such statements, as well as the epigram, "Chekhov will always 
remain, to the boob Art, and, to the enlightened, entertainment," represented one 
effort to define Chekhovian drama for us. (The effort was Rose Caylor's in her 
Introduction to Uncle Vanya as "Translated and Adapted" for the Jed Harris Broadway 
production of 1930.) There have been many other expressions to fit one aspect or 
another of Chekhov's work. But it is unnecessary to proceed further here. It is al- 
together evident that the European realism that made the most favorable impression 
upon us after World War I was not realism at all, in the ordinary sense of the term but a 
sublimated realism not sharply distinguishable from a poetry of the plateaus — a 
"poetry of plateaus," that is, if we are to distinguish it from the great poetic drama 
of the Attic and Elizabethan past. Our general avoidance of direct clinical and social 



i6 INTRODUCTION 

drama from the European stages, except in cases of sensational subject matter such as 
Edmond Bourdet's study of inverted sexuality, The Captive, was indeed curious in 
view of the fact that our own theatre tended to continue its wonted drudgery in the 
bleak valleys of commonplace derisions and assertions. 

Perhaps our domestic surfeit deterred us from importing the same kind of drama 
from abroad. And especially remarkable was it that our diffidence was strong even 
after 1930 when European conflicts came to concern us with increasing intensity. 
European anti-Nazi plays, as well as war plays, made little impression here. We 
sympathized with the author's cause but not with his playwriting. Before and after 
Hitler's ascendancy, the European theatre was replete with dramas of social conflict. 
But among these perhaps only Friedrich Wolf's play. The Sailors of Cattaro, as produced 
by the Theatre Union in the mid- thirties, won some regard — and this work was 
largely historical rather than journalistically topical with its account of the mutiny of 
the Austrian fleet during World War I. We did not even respond favorably to so gifted 
a playwright as Carl Zuckmayer when he wrote his famous satire on Prussianism, The 
Captain of Kopenick, in 1930 and when he collaborated a decade later with the actor 
Fritz Kortner in composing the French Resistance drama, Somewhere in France^ during 
World War II. 

Both Zuckmayer and Kortner were then living in the United States, and their 
mischances were chronic among the distinguished European writers who found a 
haven in our land. The arduous Ferdinand Bruckner could not get his plays beyond 
the precincts of downtown New York, where Erwin Piscator produced a new version 
of Criminals at the New School. (I would note parenthetically that departures from 
realism did not help either. Bertolt Brecht, whose Threepenny Opera had been fabu- 
lously successful in Central Europe but had suffered a quick demise on Broadway 
before his exile from Germany, had only a haphazard and "epically" fulsome pro- 
duction in New York during World War II for his powerful chronicle The Private Life 
of the Master Race and, a few years after the war, an off-Broadway production of his 
Galileo which won no converts to Brechtian *'epic theatre." The noble poet-play- 
wright Ernst Toller, whom the Theatre Guild had introduced to New York in 1924 
with the stirring expressionist drama of social conflict Masse-Mensch under the title of 
Man and the Masses, endured suffocation here as a writer before he extinguished his life 
in a New York hotel.) The Dutch writer Jan de Hartog — although he employed 
realistic playwriting — had a distinctly qualified success in 1 947-48 with his earnest and 
ethical Skipper Next to God, the drama of some Jewish refugees' effort to reach Palestine 
through the British blockade. Only Franz Werfel succeeded in getting the voice of 
liberal Europe a proper hearing in our theatre. Having taken an oblique approach to 
the European crisis, he was able to dramatize the fall of France and the joint flight of a 
humble Jewish merchant and a fiery Polish nobleman in comic terms in jacohowsky and 
the Colonel. The humor was enriched by our best writer of comic dialogue S. N. 
Behrman for one of the better war-time Theatre Guild productions, directed by Elia 
Kazan with a fine cast that included Louis Calhern and Oscar Karlweis. They gave 
each other a spirited fight on the stage as strange and at best only tentatively reconciled 
bedfellows. They are beyond all contention now, having both died in the year 19^6 
within less than four months of each other. But their mock contentions of the year 
1944 brightened and deepened our theatre of the war years. 

With the exception o{ Jacohowsky and the Colonel, presented in the present anthology 
as the one successful war play written by a European (a powerful The DeviTs General 
by Zuckmayer never came to Broadway), the European record in our theatre was a 
bleak one during the years of crisis between 1930 and 1945^. The European theatre 
failed us (others would say that we failed the European theatre) precisely when its 
realism should have been able to speak most powerfully to our playgoers. At a time 
when our local stages were trying to outdo each other in singing "songs of social 
significance," as the saying went in the embattled thirties, "social drama" fared 



INTRODUCTION 17 

especially poorly with us when we got it from foreign writers even in the familiar 
mode of realism. We were not dramatically enriched even when we got it from a 
theoretically reliable source — namely, the theatre of Soviet Russia. Our indifference 
to Soviet realism in playmaking could not have been greater if it had been the result of 
principle rather than of our sense of remoteness or of unpremeditated and unprincipled 
boredom. An early political melodrama such as Tretyakov's Roar China, which pitted 
the Chinese coolie against British "imperialists," failed to excite our interest despite 
the exciting staging possibilities made manifest in Lee Simonson's brilliantly devised 
stage setting. The best plays of Afinogenov, an author of some promise who rubbed 
Soviet literary bureaucracy the wrong way at times, and Michael Bulgakov's Davs of the 
Turbins, the best because the most just and character-rooted drama about the Civil War 
in Russia after 191 7, did not achieve Broadway production. Katayev's comedy of 
Soviet manners Squaring the Circle did and was found moderately attractive and enter- 
taining. Konstantin Simonov, the white hope of the Soviet stage during World War II, 
had his war-drama The Russian People presented in Manhattan, but Broadway critics and 
playgoers found his patriotism more evident than his talent. And so it runs — the 
record of the European drama of social and political reference in our theatre after 
1930. 



Fortunately we were sooner or later fairly well supplied throughout the four 
decades of this survey with fancy, romance, theatricality (if it was less exacting than 
Brecht's style), and comic sophistication. Although we overlooked or misjudged many 
imaginative and stylized works or mistreated them with our adaptations and stage 
productions, we nevertheless managed to enrich our theatrical seasons. Within limits 
that cannot be defined here without detailed examples, such as our failure as late as 
195^6 to give Broadway production to Cocteau's The Infernal Machine, we even took an 
interest in several varieties of poetic or quizzical work from the Continent. In each 
area of theatre we had the good sense or good luck to encounter the better European 
plays as well as the worse, although I wish I could be as confident that we always took 
to the best as I am sure that we courted many of the worst. Still, it is true that our 
enterprise in importing stage-pieces covered enough territory to bring us to works of 
beauty and power or of gaiety and urbanity. 

Fancy interested us early, since, as noted before, our little art theatres sprang into 
being while poetic and symbolic theatre was in favor across the Atlantic. (We made 
our own mild contribution to it, too, with such pieces as Percy MacKaye's The 
Scarecrow, Josephine Preston Peabody's The Piper in 19 10, and George C. Hazelton and 
Benrimo's pseudo-Chinese play The Yellow Jacket in 191 2.) Amid the inevitable inepti- 
tude that fancy invites there was, fortunately, material of pith and point in a number 
of the works we received. Plainly the most durable of these was The Dybbuk, Ansky's 
stirring piece of folk-drama first written in the Yiddish language, then adapted into the 
Russian at the suggestion of Stanislavsky (he also suggested the introduction of "The 
Messenger" into the play), and then translated into classical Hebrew by the great 
poet Bialik. The career of this play also established its international character. It had a 
great production in Russian when it was staged for the Hebrew-language Habimah 
Theatre in Moscow by none other than Eugene Vakhtangov, Stanislavsky's favorite 
pupil, the short-lived Soviet stage director to whom everybody attributed genius. 
Then the Habimah players, who moved permanently to Palestine in 193 i and have 
been the classical Hebrew theatre of Israel ever since, made The Dybbuk the chief work 
in their repertory. Moreover, they not only toured with the play throughout a large 
part of the Western world, but brought it to New York, for the first time in 1926 and 
for a second time in the spring of 1 948. The Yiddish version was the first production of 



i8 INTRODUCTION 

Maurice Schwartz's Jewish Art Theatre in New York for the 1921-22 season. And as 
translated into EngHsh by H. G. Alsberg and Winifred Katzin it not only made thea- 
trical history in 1926 at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, but reached the 
Leeds Civic Playhouse and the Royalty Theatre in London a year later. It is a rea- 
sonable conclusion, one supposes, that there could be international agreement at 
least on the theatrical merits of The Djbbuk^ if on nothing else. We participated in this 
agreement, even if it cannot be claimed that the play rocked Broadway with its popu- 
larity. At least we recognized a really good story when we came across one, we were 
affected by the atmospheric enchantments of a play in which a realistic picture of the 
East-European environment is also a poetic reality, and we were moved by a mystical 
tale of passion and death. The Dybbuk may be the greatest love poem we have had from 
the modern European stage. In an older period it would have been written in verse. 
But even in prose, it is evocative beyond the ordinary effects of prose. It is true, at the 
same time, that The Dybbuk has remained a rarity in our theatre. Plays of this nature 
are scarce on any stage, and for us its atmospheric intensity and its dark rapture, 
qualities most apparent in the Habimah players' performance, could not become a 
theatrical staple. 

We should have derived gratification, too, from several of the Spanish poet Lorca's 
folk-dramas. It is a pity that Blood Wedding did not thrive in the climate of our theatre 
or that D'Annunzio's wild folk-drama The Daughter ofjorio could not take root in our 
soil earlier. But Latin emotionalism proved too exacting for our actors and play- 
goers whenever it reached the white heat of poetry within the environs of alien 
provincial life. 

After The Djbbuk^ reprinted in this volume, almost any other fantasy that we did 
produce was likely to prove mild, although for that reason alone it was not necessarily 
less successful here. On the contrary, the much milder fantasy of Casella's Death Takes 
a Holiday, as presented by the Shuberts (from whose grasp it could not be extracted 
by the present anthologist), proved decidedly more popular. And amidst other 
conceits of varying interest, Andre Obey's philosophical comedy Noah is the most 
substantial while remaining congenial to a cosmopolitan theatre public. Although 
produced under distinctly limited auspices, Noah came to be cherished as an affecting 
work all the more attractive because created with spontaneous theatricality yet not 
without rueful comment on human nature and the human condition — this by im- 
plication and exposition, however, rather than by preachment. And with Noah there 
came to our stage a breath, however rarified in transit, from one of the most cherished 
sources of theatrical art in Europe. For Noah was written for production by a company 
of actors, the Compagnie des Quinze, that had been carefully trained in the best traditions 
of Jacques Copeau, the apostle of "the theatre theatrical" movement in France. 
Working as a philosopher-poet on the implications of the story of Noah and his family 
during the Deluge, Obey also worked as a theatrician bent upon making ample use of 
the histrionic art of the Compagnie des Quinze. In discussing his play, the author said 
with simple but telling truthfulness — "telling" and "truthful," of course, only 
because so many modem writers have labored to restrain or conceal the theatricality 
of their play writing : "I thought of the stage and that was enough. 

Nearly fifteen years after the New York production, which brought Pierre Fresnay 
from Paris for the role of the patriarch, the scholar-critic Francis Fergusson was moved 
to devote a little section of his book The Idea of a Theatre to Obey's play. "The stage 
itself is accepted . . . for what it is:" he wrote, "illusion is dispensed with, or 
playfully accepted as such." And he rightly pointed to the attendant merits of Obey's 
writing — to the "lightness and economical directness," the irony, and the alert 
willingness to see a joke. The playwright had made a thing of the theatre out of myth, 
and he had made it carry a heavy burden of reality, too — but lightly, wistfully, 
gingerly. Maintaining what Mr. Fergusson calls "the fiction of its literal reality," the 
play made its appeal "to the full poetic or histrionic sensibility rather than to the 



INTRODUCTION 19 

mind." That is, of course, a limitation of the play, which is also perhaps too arch at 
times to take significant command of the stage. For all that, however, the play belongs 
in this record and in our anthology not merely as a lovely thing but as an example of 
the aspirations of devotees of a modem poetic theatre. 

At the other end of the spectrum of fantasy, there have been somber works charged 
with anger and dismay. In these works the European theatre found a way of mediating 
between social drama and the need for imaginative art. Three examples appear in this 
book. From Morn to Midnight, The World We Live In, and No Exit, although some more 
familiar examples suggest themselves here as well as a few less familiar ones such as 
Toller's Man and the Masses and Werfel's The Goat Song. Even a limited success on 
Broadway was important, since some of these works exerted an influence or had a life 
on our stage in excess of their run on Broadway. It is probable that the style of From 
Morn to Midnight influenced playwriting, although our writers were not necessarily 
conscious of indebtedness to Kaiser and his expressionist colleagues of the Central 
European theatre. 

Among the three European fantasies of protest in this volume. Kaiser's From Morn to 
Midnight, a Theatre Guild offering of the year 1922, was the most pessimistic in 
content. It left the world no shred of decency with which to cover its naked meretri- 
ciousness. The play was one of those products of the expressionist movement in 
Germany which started in violence just before World War I and ended in hysteria just 
a few years after it. Since Kaiser worked in a variety of veins and had many stage 
productions, he also possessed the greatest skill among the writers who endeavored to 
employ expressionism in the theatre. From Morn to Midnight, the most controlled of his 
expressionist plays to come to our attention, also possessed the greatest variety of 
events — this as a result of its author's intention to expose the hoUowness of many 
aspects of German life under the monarchy. (The play was composed in 1 9 1 6, less than 
two years before the end of the German monarchy with the defeat of Germany. ) If 
Theatre Guild directors expected that Americans in 1922 would like to look at them- 
selves in the mirror of this chronicle of a little man's escape from his teller's cage into 
the great outside world of nothingness, they were surely mistaken. It may even be true 
that better playwriting would have silvered the glass so that it would have reflected 
images of our humanity more convincingly. Yet it was important for us to become 
acquainted with Kaiser's and his colleagues' technique of expressive distortion, of 
passionate imaginativeness, of an art harsh, violent, and intense. 

Among other imported plays of the same or similar constitution, one piece, Josef 
and Karel Capek's The World We Live In, possessed a distinctly wider appeal. Arriving 
on Broadway in the same year of 1922, it had a good press and a long run. Although 
slightly worse for wear after some thirty-five years, it possessed a colorful theatricality 
capable of captivating audiences at least on a first encounter. Produced in the same 
year and season as Karl Capek's more concentrated fantasy on the mechanization of 
modem life, R.U.R., it raised the stock of Central European theatre. We began to 
look to it for more imports and expected from it a new and fruitful dispensation which 
turned out to be no dispensation after a few more years. The Theatre Guild, for in- 
stance, continued to be hopeful and presented such off-beat dramas as Ernst Toller's 
Man and the Masses and Franz Werfel's The Goat Song in its sixth and eighth seasons, but 
discovered that Central Europe could supply a far more marketable supply of comedies 
such as Molnar's The Guardsman, Ernest Vajda's Fata Morgana, Sil-Vara's Caprice, and 
Frantisek Langer's The Camel Through the Needle's Eye. On one memorable earlier 
occasion, the production of Molnar's Liliom in 1921, the Guild and the American 
public discovered that a deft reconciliation of fantasy and comedy could pay theatrical 
dividends. And these dividends were multiplied in the fourth decade when Molnar's 
play underwent its musical transformation into Carousel. 

Yet neither the bite nor the bile was wholly extracted from European fantastication . 
From Italy, for example, there arrived a series of provocative pieces from its so-called 



20 INTRODUCTION 

"school of the grotesque" headed by Luigi Pirandello, a writer of undoubted genius. 
He fascinated us, even if it is a historian's duty to add that our theatre was rarely able 
to do his works justice with our Broadway translations and stage productions. Except 
for some off-Broadway endeavors — the most successful of which was the only half- 
Pirandellian Tyrone Guthrie adaptation of Six Characters in Search of an Author at the 
Phoenix Theatre in 195^^ — ventures into Pirandellian drama usually looked like 
ventures into a jungle of confusions. Pirandello's deepest dramas. Six Characters in 
Search of an Author and Henry IV (the latter presented on Broadway under the title of 
The Living Mask) were produced here with scanty results. He did, however, have one 
genuinely successful production in 193 i with As You Desire Me, included in the present 
anthology. He was fortunate in his cast. The main role, that of an intensely suffering 
woman who craves a saving identity and requires it vainly from others, was played by 
Judith Anderson, our ablest tragedienne and perhaps our only genuine one. As You 
Desire Me, above all, had the advantage of the powerful story directly told. We did not 
quite know how to "take" the sleight-of-hand artist in such engrossing pieces as 
Right You Are, ff You Think You Are (The Theatre Guild's 1927 title for Pirandello's 
finest comedy) and Six Characters in Search of an Author. There is no blinking the fact 
that some kinds of so-called intellectual drama were too elusive for Broadway's 
impatient clientele. But we were able to accept As You Desire Me, a success on the stage 
here and also a film vehicle for the great Garbo, since the Pirandellian premise of the 
relativity of human identity in this vv^ork could be experienced as a tragic reality. 

Pirandello died in 1936, and there was no one to challenge our minds from the 
European continent for a decade except the largely overlooked Bertolt Brecht. But 
imaginative drama began to reach us with revived provocativeness shortly after World 
War II, this time from France, where a renovation of dramatic art was apparent even 
before 1939 and began to display new vigor even under the German occupation of 
Paris. The Parisian theatre sent us Jean- Paul Sartre's bitter existentialist drama No 
Exit, along with other formidable contributions to the theme of disaster such as the 
same author's The Flies and Jean Anouilh's Antigone, as well as his Joan of Arc drama 
The Lark, which is a harsher work in the original than in the Lillian Hellman adaptation 
that flourished in our 19 ^^-^6 season. Since the years 1955 and 195^6 also brought 
New York productions of Samuel Beckett's devastating Waiting for Godot (originally 
written in French and produced in Paris, though by an Irish author who had affinities to 
James Joyce and should not be considered a French writer at all) and Jean Genet's 
acrimonious drama of frustration The Maids, one could surmise that our theatre was 
not wholly immune to the mood of disenchantment that hovered over the European 
stage. And that opinion could be further sustained in the 1955-56 season by "off- 
Broadway" productions of Andreyev's He Who Gets Slapped, Cocteau's The Telephone, 
Brecht's Life of the Master Race, and Sartre's No Exit. 

In 1946 this last-mentioned work of the imagination — an imagination truly in 
want of more than an ounce of civet — had been presented in New York with loving 
care and a professional cast calculated to impress the Broadway public. Broadway, 
abetted if not indeed incited by the reviewers, failed to be greatly impressed and the 
production closed after thirty-one performances. Yet No Exit was one existentialist 
nightmare that could not be banished for long. It returned to one off^- Broadway house. 
The Cherry Lane, about half a year later, and won some credit there. And finally, it 
won genuine applause in another off-Broadway production and gained a new public in 
19^6. This belated victory for No Exit, it is curious to note, occurred in one of the 
most prosperous and ostensibly optimistic years of American society. 

That human behavior can be nauseous is information that the author of a pre-war 
novel entitled Nausea pressed home in his first play, No Exit, as if it were a new truth 
instead of an old half-truth. That the ultimate punishment is imprisonment in the 
prison of other people's opinion was the central image of this existentialist fantasy. It 
happened to be urged upon us with an animus bom less of the author's philosophical 



INTRODUCTION 21 

study than of national humiliation in the war, underground resistance after the fall of 
Paris, and redemption in blood and fire. And it was this animus that gave Sartre's 
plays, as well as the plays of other existentialist authors, their special tension and 
dramatic pulsation. Theatrical craftsmanship was not always ready at hand for the 
existentialist writer, and Sartre himself was often too strained and talkative for our 
theatre. (I suppose it is true that we have a low saturation point where discussion is 
concerned — unless the discussion has been conducted by Shaw. ) Yet Sartre managed 
to engage our reluctant interest with his abhorence of human weakness. With his 
drama about a Southern lynching-spree. The Respectful Prostitute, as adapted for the 
New Stages experimental company, he even became a popular author on our stage. 
But the play succeeded more for the sensationalism of its sexual and racial matter than 
for its existentialist critique and acrid irony. Sartre gave us a more honestly charged 
work and an admirably concentrated one in No Exit. The play may have barely skirted — 
and, for some playgoers, failed to skirt — the fringes of a psychological and cerebral 
grand-guignol. But we needed this reminder that all was not fluff in the war-shattered 
theatre of Western Europe. 



It is necessary, finally, to take notice of the brands of Continental romance and 
so-called sophisticated comedy upon which we drew avidly. But to recall our im- 
portations would burst the seams of this essay. Here it may be necessary to remember 
only those that rose conspicuously above the ordinary level and dubious status of such 
entertainments. 

Romantic drama, for instance, never really vanished from the European capitals. 
And even as late as the nineteen-fifties the Continental theatres produced, and we 
borrowed, romances although the species was supposed to have disappeared with the 
victories of Ibsen and the blasts against Sardoodledom Shaw had sounded more than 
half a century ago. In one instance, Jean Cocteau's The Eagle Has Two Heads, the 
Ruritanian confection even arrived with advance trumpetings from the intellectual 
comers of criticism. Although we promptly signified our rejection of this import, not 
to mention other plays less augustly endorsed and unsupported by the formidable 
talents of Tallulah Bankhead, we were as susceptible as other mortals to good romantic 
drama. We have not failed to give our plaudits to Cyrano de Bergerac with becoming 
regularity ever since Richard Mansfield opened in it on October 3, 1898, with Margaret 
Anglin playing Roxane while Augustin Daly presented another version with Ada Rehan 
in the same part on the same memorable evening. And the triumphs of Hampden and 
Ferrer as Cyrano are of course inscribed in the latter-day annals of the American stage. 
We received some of Rostand's other pieces with regard, too, if with no vast enthusi- 
asm, and, as noted earlier, we gave Sem Benelli's turbulent piece La Cena delle Beffe, 
produced by Hopkins under the title of The Jest, a rousing reception. 

Nevertheless, latter-day European romanticism was not altogether congenial to us. 
We preferred our own brand when Edwin Justus Mayer provided his Cellini play 
The Firebrand and Maxwell Anderson his Elizabethan dramas, starting with Elizabeth 
the Queen in 1930. It was European sophistication, chiefly in the form of light (some- 
times sentimental, sometimes cynical) comedy, that won us over, and we were 
particularly captivated by it in the blithe and breezy nineteen- twenties. The stock of 
European bohemian and modish attitudes rose as high as the stock of our more material- 
istic enterprises and dropped only with the advent of the Depression, although more 
slowly than the national income. We were not to be outdone in the twenties by the 
gay world across the Atlantic, and we even produced our own styles in sophistication 
when the Kaufman school of so-called debunkers took the "bunk" out of our popular 
culture and specialized in nose-thumbing entertainment. It was also at that time, 



22 INTRODUCTION 

however, that the index of importations from the European markets rose highest. 
An especially thriving market w^as the Hungarian. It flourished so well indeed that 
Hollywood caught on to this fact too, as did the Hungarian theatrical fraternity, so 
that our celluloid capital became full of Magyar literati. Was it not once rumored that 
it had become necessary to post a notice at the entrance to MGM's writers' building 
admonishing applicants that it was not enough to be a Hungarian ? 

Some lovely and still remembered wares came from Budapest. The present writer, 
for one, affectionately recalls Vajda's comedy of adolescence. Fata Morgana, staged 
for the Theatre Guild by the best director of comedy in the twenties, the scintillating 
Philip Moeller. This production came toward the end of the 1923-24 season, and the 
Guild opened its next season with Molnar's The Guardsman and the season after that 
with the same Danubian expert's quizzical romance The Glass Slipper. Molnar also ac- 
counted for Gilbert Miller's production of The Good Fairy, in which the youthful 
Helen Hayes played a blithe Miss Fix-It, and for the same producer's presentation of 
The Plaj's the Thing, a semi-Pirandellian piece of impudence in which humor takes 
liberties not only with the folk and folklore of the theatre but with dramatic structure 
as well. Among several plays that are about equally representative of a vanished 
Mittel-Europa, The Vlay's the Thing is perhaps the most durable next to Molnar's 
familiar masterpiece Liliom. 

To take the human species lightly and to take its faith and works somewhat lightly, 
too, was indeed the best kind of instruction the Austrian-Hungarian theatre could give 
us. In view of our traditional Calvinism, which had and still has odd ways of reasserting 
itself in our precincts, this enfranchising instruction was quite in order. This was 
evident even in the commedia delV arte improvisation that the Austrian writer Stefan 
Zweig made out of Ben Jonson's Volpone. The production of this Viennese Volpone on 
Broadway is also an example of the odd way in which we sometimes get texts for the 
stage. It may be recalled that the J edermann production Reinhardt brought over from 
Austria was Hugo von Hofmannsthal's adaptation of the English morality-play Everyman^ 
itself apparently an adaptation from an earlier Dutch allegory Elckerlijc. Admittedly, 
there is considerable oddity in English classics reaching us through Austrian versions, 
and purists may demur at so cavalier an attitude toward one of the English master- 
pieces. But protests on this score would not have troubled the insouciant Theatre 
Guild of the twenties. When the production opened in New York in the spring of 
1928 with Alfred Lunt playing Mosca to the Volpone of Dudley Digges, there was a 
brightness upon the stage that would be remembered by those who saw the production. 
There were not many who did, for the play was chiefly entertainment for the cogno- 
scenti of subscription audiences. But is is not only interesting to present this work to 
students, who will compare it with Jonson's play and perhaps carp at its transfor- 
mation because it was beyond Herr Zweig and his translator to prevail with crackling 
Jonsonian language, but also pleasurable to display this Volpone as a theatrician's tour 
deforce. And here it is embalmed in our anthology like a fly in amber, a fly that while 
it flew had a lovely color and a lively buzz. 

Inevitably more practical for Broadway production, of course, was a translation or 
moderate adaptation from a foreign language, on the one hand, or a complete domesti- 
cation of a comedy. The predatoriness of the human animal was a favorite theme of the 
twenties and, in view of the disrepute of business enterprise during the Depression, it 
remained a popular subject in the thirties. Not surprisingly there were many European 
treatments to which we could have helped ourselves, and we turned to several of them 
in addition to Volpone. One of the lightest and, to my mind, best of these, Jules 
Romains' Dr. Knock, proved a weak entry here, perhaps because the producer of the 
Granville-Barker adaptation, the American Laboratory Theatre, was not particularly 
potent in the market place. (The production ran for twenty- three performances early 
in 1928, and the cast included young actors who would later make their way in such 
opposite worlds as the academic and the cinematic — Francis Fergusson in the former 



INTRODUCTION 23 

and Harold Hecht in the latter.) But Topaze^ Marcel Pagnol's demonstration of the 
prevalence of unscrupulous worldly conduct and a schoolmaster's discovery of its 
abundant rew^ards, had in Benn Levy's British adaptation a thriving career in 1930 under 
Lee Shubert's auspices. And an even greater, as well as more lasting success (Topaze^ 
later on, failed twice on Broadway after having rolled up 2 i^ performances in 1930) 
rewarded Sidney Howard's domestication of Rene Fauchois' comedy Prenez garde a la 
peinture under the title of The Late Christopher Bean. Gilbert Miller presented it brilliantly 
in New York in the season of 1932-33 with an excellent cast headed by Pauline Lord, 
Walter Connolly, and Beulah Bondi. Sidney Howard, who had had much experience 
in preparing European plays for the American stage, brought all his mastery of local 
color and play-structure to the job of giving this expose of avarice a native habitation. 
In its transformed state the play came so close to American genre painting and folk 
idiom that it is arguable whether The Late Christopher Bean is European drama at all. 
That, however, is precisely the point of my including it in this anthology. The play 
represents a rare instance of our successfully incorporating a European work into the 
corpus of American drama. 

Efforts to attain the same objective rarely turned out half as well, and other adept 
adapters such as Robert Sherwood and Sam and Bella Spewack, when they turned out 
Jacques Deval's Tovarich and Albert Husson's My Three Angels respectively, had the 
wisdom to leave the foreign play in its original setting. In the last-mentioned instance, 
skill and tact on the part of the adapters combined with fortunate casting to make a 
Broadway success out of a minor play. La Cuisine des Anges, by a minor French writer. 
The adapters, whose savoir-faire had proved its edge in previous assignations with 
sophisticated comedy, maintained a deft and detached humor in their adaptation as 
well as a profitable balance between amorality and sentimentality. My Three Angels may 
stand in the present volume as the most recent example of rapport between our 
theatre and that of the Continent in respect to the business of entertainment. It was not 
the first time, of course, that a rapport had been achieved, and it might have been 
established even more steadily if plays such as Andre Roussin's The Little Hut had fallen 
into the right hands. With a good translator and producer inconsequential plays, 
which are nonetheless as entertaining as My Three Angels proved to be, have traveled 
from country to country with more luck in transit than important masterpieces have 
had. Between 1915^ and 1955 we got tremendous hits from Central European authors not 
one of whom was called Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Hebbel, Hauptmann, or Schnitzler. 

Since World War II, however, we have enjoyed the experience of genial re- 
cognition in the case of one European writer who combined an urbane spirit with a 
reflective one. Somewhat belatedly, we have discovered or rediscovered Jean Girau- 
doux after having rejected his first serious play Siegfried in 1930 and delighted too 
lightly in his Amphitryon 38 as a Lunt vehicle in a trim S. N. Behrman adaptation in 
which the by-play of Giraudoux's intellect could be only faintly detected. We have 
now (that is, by 19^6) made the partial acquaintance of the Giraudoux who summed 
up in his work some of the best qualities of the French stage that grew out of the 
efforts of Copeau, Dullin and Jouvet to re theatricalize the theatre without cheapening 
it and without depriving it of thought, feeling, and general literary excellence. The 
tragic and near-tragic Giraudoux, it is true, has remained largely unknown, since we 
have had no professional productions of his Electro smd Judith. And the comic Giraudoux 
has remained only partially known, since Maurice Valency's adaptations of The Mad- 
woman of Chaillot and Intermezzo (called The Enchanted on Broadway) tempered Girau- 
doux' celebrated baroque style — a fine burst of eloquence, much nuance, imagery, 
and wit — to Broadway ears. Nor did we quite get a right view of his Ondine in 19^4 
through an operatic production chiefly redeemed by the beauty of Audrey Hepburn's 
person and performance. Only in the Christopher Fry translation of La Guerre de Troie 
n aura pas lieu under the title of Tiger at the Gates for Harold Clurman's production of 
the season of 195^5^-^6 did Giraudoux's talent remain intact on Broadway. 



24 INTRODUCTION 

All the Giraudoux pieces that reached Broadway after 1930 had the same nimbleness 
of spirit that has been considered too elusive for American playgoers. Their response to 
Tiger at the Gates was not so niggardly as to suggest that they had to be spared mental 
exercise from Giraudoux's teeming brain in the other productions. But one cannot be 
sure either that a straight translation would not have militated against Giraudoux on 
Broadway in the case of so complex a play as The Madwoman of Chaillot. What one can 
be sure of is the enrichment the American theatre derived from its meeting up with 
the work of Giraudoux, who died in 1944 shortly after the composition of the last- 
mentioned play and about a decade after the writing of the work that under the title of 
Tiger at the Gates won an almost reverential reception from the press in New York. 

Giraudoux's junior colleague, Jean Anouilh, another nimble craftsman, found our 
reviewers and playgoers less responsive, and on occasion outspokenly hostile. It seemed 
for several years that after having been overrated in England, he was fated to be under- 
rated in America. He had, however, some near-misses such as Ring Round the Moon, 
his London success of 19^0 adapted by Fry, and Mademoiselle Colombe, adapted by Louis 
Kronenberger. And he received compliments for an early effort. The Thieves' Carnival, 
when it was produced in the off- Broadway Cherry Lane theatre in 19^^. Anouilh, the 
master of entertainments that had the spice of imagination in their composition, found 
Broadway reluctant to acknowledge the savoriness of his condiments. But by 195^^ it 
was the heavier, if not necessarily more gifted, Anouilh of tragic pretensions who had 
forged ahead in the race for recognition. His Joan of Arc drama The Lark was staged here 
with stunning impact on a public that had rejected his Legend for Lovers, unsatisfactorily 
adapted from his Eurjdice, and, despite Katherine Cornell's services, his Antigone, a 
drama of close reasoning and nihilistic intensity that had made an impression abroad. 
Undoubtedly the American production of The Lark owed much of its success to Julie 
Harris, as vibrant an actress as we have had within memory. And regardless of any 
complaints lodged against the addition of romantic elements and the subtraction of 
cynical ones by Lillian Hellman, The Lark was a Hellman success as well as an Anouilh 
one. The Lark was not the play the author's advocates would have chosen for the 
purpose of forwarding his reputation. Still, with the arrival of both Tiger at the Gates 
and The Lark on Broadway in the season of 195^5^-5^6, relations between New York and 
Paris appeared to be quite satisfactory. 



This brings us to the conclusion of a discourse that could have been more satisfactory 
if it had been either much briefer or much longer. Briefer or longer, however, it 
would still have had to take notice of some further points. One of these would 
refer to our sources of European drama, especially for practical purposes. The 
Scandinavian countries from which the stream of dramatic modernism had poured 
down abundantly before 1900 sent us only a trickle, and Russia stopped feeding our 
reservoirs of drama after the Bolshevik revolution. We evinced high regard for the 
Soviet theatre in the twenties and early thirties as a seedbed of experimentation in 
production style but could not work up any enthusiasm for the new Russian plays. The 
emphasis in them was on utility rather than art, and both their content and form were 
adversely affected by the growing blight of a dictatorship that did not spare the arts. 
The German theatre fascinated us mostly with its expressionistic phase of the twenties 
and with the plays produced under that influence, and this was also true of plays 
written in the neighboring lands, especially in Czechoslovakia. We had similar diffi- 
culty with the dramas of the Italian school of the grotesque, headed by Pirandello, 
although we were aware that the Italian theatre was bustling with imaginative activity. 
Spain gave us only a few touching plays and one truly exciting one. The Passion Flower, 
until the mid-thirties. On the European contintent the most ample sources of our 



INTRODUCTION 2^ 

theatre were Central European and French. Historical events, moreover, afifected our 
supply throughout the continent. Germany, indeed all of Central Europe, dried up as a 
source w^ith the advent of Hitler, as Russia did w^ith the advent of Stalin; and two 
decades of Mussolini were also unfavorable to the burgeoning of theatre despite the 
Duce's own dabblings in play writing. Somehow only French dramatic art weathered 
the political climate throughout the decades — this even under the German occu- 
pation. It is a curious fact that the French managed not only to write but to produce 
plays as challenging as Sartre's The Flies and No Exit right under the noses of the German 
occupation authorities. 

Men as well as nations belong to this summary, for it was the vogue of individual 
playwrights that counted heavily with our importers, the Broadway play agents and 
producers. As previously noted, the greatest vogue was that of Chekhov — not that 
he became a popular writer, but that he was the one "old" master who left a really 
deep impression upon our playwrights and critics. But while Chekhov beckoned to us 
from the shades, Molnar kept us close company for a decade. No commanding figure 
could be discerned by us during the European crisis from the rise of Hitler until the 
day of his debacle. But no sooner had that been accomplished than we began to be 
intrigued, if not exactly overwhelmed, by Sartre and entranced, in the main, with 
Giraudoux. And since Giraudoux will write no more plays and few of his best works 
remain to be professionally produced, it may be Anouilh who will occupy the horizon 
in the next ten years. There is in this traffic with dramatic material a problem of 
criticism, of course, that has yet to be resolved in the case of recent writers and that 
has already been almost closed in the case of the older playwrights who followed 
Ibsen and Strindberg. Concerning the latter I should be deceiving the reader if I 
maintained that there was more than one great playwright among them — namely 
Chekhov — or that among the recent writers there were any who gave evidence 
of attaining the stature of Chekhov. But we cannot keep our eyes constantly fixed 
on literary stature in matters theatrical, for the theatre is a quotidian affair when it is a 
living one. 

To worry over the possibility of our overrating so gifted a writer as Pirandello or 
Giraudoux would certainly lead to neurotic anxiety when much of the author's work 
still needs to be assimilated in our theatre. And also when our general problem 
remains one of making more, rather than less, use of talented writers. Aside from the 
work of minor playwrights we have thus far ignored or mismanaged, I have in mind 
plays by Strindberg, Wedekind, and Pirandello; poetic dramas by Lorca, to whom we 
have thus far been unable to do much justice, and by Paul Claudel, whose majestic 
work we have evaded ever since the young Theatre Guild presented The Tidings 
Brought to Mary in 1922; plays by Henry de Montherlant, a dramatist whose talent is as 
formidable as his reputation in America is negligible; and, surely, plays by Bertolt 
Brecht, who died in his fifty-eighth year in the summer of 19^6 without having had a 
single production on Broadway except an unsuccessful one of his collaboration with 
the composer Kurt Weill, The Threepenny Opera, about a quarter of a century before. 
In downtown New York, an adaptation by Marc Blitzstein of the aforementioned work 
had been running for two seasons, and plans had been drawn by the Phoenix Theatre 
for producing his incisive fable The Good Woman of Setzuan, a play I had hoped to get 
produced at the Theatre Guild about a dozen years before. It seemed possible, at this 
time, that Brecht was on the verge of a career long denied him, although it would now 
have to a posthumous one. There are, besides, cases of minor default too numerous to 
mention and the misfortunes of less than towering authors for whom some of us would 
have liked a better reception than they got — for instance, Lenormand, whose extra- 
ordinary drama of deteriorating human relations, Les Rates, was staged by Stark Young 
for the Theatre Guild in 1923 under the title of The Failures. It is, finally, also true that 
many of our translations and adaptations, some indeed in the very volume for which I 
have made myself responsible, have left something to be desired. The problem of 



26 INTRODUCTION 

translation has been a vexing one ever since theatres throughout the world began to 
produce foreign as well as native plays.* 

But it is not to lodge complaints in behalf of foreign authors that I have written the 
above paragraphs. It is rather to show that the European drama has had more to give 
than we have been willing or able to take. In view of the great variety of the European 
theatres and their long history , it would be surprising indeed if there were no more 
available to us than we have displayed on our professional stages. Fortunately, even this 
much has been large enough to give us a small library of American-produced European 
plays, and the twenty included in the present volume could easily be doubled if one 
were to add others already available in other collections or omitted for one reason or 
another. We, on the other hand, started exporting plays in the nineteen-twenties 
(those of O'Neill found a brisk market quite quickly) and the demand for our dramas 
and musicals grew steadily again after World War II. It would appear then that the 
theatre has provided an active means of international exchange. The exchange has 
entailed loss as well as profit and dismay as well as delight, but it has fortunately 
occupied us with commodities over which the battles we wage are fought with 
expletives rather than explosives. , 



* To this by no means negligible matter the Hudson Review recently devoted an article full of acute 
observations and fine fury by William Becker. 



27 

The Plavs and the Playwrights 
TIGER AT THE GATES 



Tiger at the Gates was a miracle in our theatre — an effective piece of theatre that 
could also qualify as a literary masterpiece, and a European one that had not been 
diluted for the purpose of successful presentation on Broadway. As for the excellence 
of the original play of Jean Giraudoux, chief luminary of the French avant-garde stage, 
much could be said without exhausting the subject. Many words flowed in its praise 
after the Harold Clurman production opened on Broadway, soon after the same deft 
director's London production. The wit and passion of the work could easily be noted, 
as could the throb of essential action in the midst of the sparkling discursiveness of the 
writing. For the most part, that discursiveness happened to be intrinsic action, too — 
action of the mind, combined with the dramatic suspense of awaiting doom in the very 
act of talking about it. And a good deal of the discourse, superbly written and therefore 
forceful in itself, gained added pulsation from the context of irony throughout this 
drama of foredoomed disaster that bore the ironic title of La Guerre de Troie n aura pas 
lieu — The Trojan War Will Not Take Place. 

It was furthermore fortunate that the American producers secured the services of 
Christopher Fry, the English theatre's ablest stylist, as Giraudoux's translator. The 
English version is a complete and faithful translation. Two short scenes were omitted 
from the French play by the time the production reached Broadway. (The omissions 
are indicated in the complete text reprinted in this anthology. ) In the opinion of the 
present editor the omissions are not at all regrettable; they improved the work by 
overcoming a tendency toward Ijcee cleverness from which Giraudoux was not always 
free. 

The piece was first produced in 193^ by Louis Jouvet, with Jouvet playing the part 
of Hector. But its arrival in the American theatre was long delayed — although credit 
should go to Professor John Reich of Columbia University for making a translation and 
endeavoring to get a production for the play a number of years before the Broadway 
premiere.* Giraudoux's drama may have struck us as too fatalistic before the outbreak of 
World War II and too obvious as well as painful in its irony once the war was in progress, 
while in the early post-war years the theme may have seemed passe. One way or another, 
we managed to postpone professional production of this brilliantly written play for 
two decades. 

The play indeed was conceived in a mode strange in our theatre, whereas the retelling 
and reinterpretation of classic subject-matter has been traditional on the French stage 
since the neo-classic age of Comeille and Racine. And Giraudoux had followed their 
example in writing an Electra and an Amphitrjon 38 — the latter so numbered because 
the author surmised that his was the thirty-eighth treatment of the classic triangle 
of Alkmena, Amphitryon, and Zeus. The Trojan War Will Not Take Place was, of course, 
something more than just another academic exercise. It was the culmination of its 
author's concern for the state of the Western world, a state with which he was 
professionally occupied as a member of the French diplomatic service until his death 
and with which he had occupied himself as a writer ever since publishing his novel 
Siegfried et le Limousin in 1922 and basing the play Siegfried on it. A provocative drama 
which had a very successful Jouvet production in 1928, Siegfried was a failure on the 

* Apparently at least one other translation prior to Fry's, which was commmissioned by the New York 
producer Robert Joseph, in 195^4 or 195^5^, circulated in America. It was made by Marcel Reboussin and was 
staged by Althea Hunt at the College at William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia on March 1 1 and 12, 
1953. It may have had other productions. 



28 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

American stage, but our reception of Giraudoux's later anti-war drama in 19^^ was 
wholly admiring. It was evident that the response of our critics and ordinary playgoers 
to the play renamed Tiger at the Gates, a title in some respects better than La Guerre de 
Troie n' aura pas lieu, was a response to a dramatist who had attained complete maturity 
as a thinker and dramatist and as a poet and satirist. 

And in Tiger at the Gates, never distant from the approach of the thinker and the writer 
— the writer of plays notably literary in texture — is the talent of the man of the 
theatre. It is perhaps the last thing one would ordinarily expect in a man who served 
many years in the French foreign ministry, heading the Press Bureau at the Quai 
d'Orsay in 1924, who became a cabinet minister in 1939, and did not have a play 
produced until he was forty-six years old. He was nevertheless a true man of the 
theatre — a Theater mensch, as Giraudoux, who had taken a university degree in German 
literature, would have called himself. Or, rather, he became one as a result of close 
collaboration with Louis jouvet ever since the latter's production of Siegfried. 
Giraudoux became one of those modern playwrights, as fortunate as they are rare, 
who have a theatrical company to write for and to count on, who know almost always 
for whom they are shaping a part, who create a dramatic character and a playing part 
simultaneously. In this particular case, moreover, the playwright, for whom character- 
ization was not actually an overriding interest (his characters were well described by 
Maurice Valency as persons who "express themselves with the precision of tramed 
conversationalists, all voluble, all witty, all a bit precious — all Giraudoux'' ), also 
knew that he had a producer in Jouvet who would welcome a fanciful bent ot mmd. 
In consequence, Giraudoux was as theatrical in his language as in his dramatic action, 
and his inclination to write complex speeches or cerebral arias at great length proved 
more of an advantage than a detriment. For Tiger at the Gates, a largely intellectual 
drama in which the author and his characters are primarily thinking and talking about 
war instead of waging it, Giraudoux the showman was as essential as Giraudoux the 
man of letters. Few modem plays indeed start off with so many disadvantages for the 
stage and end up with so many advantages as this fascinating and heartbreaking dis- 
cussion drama. Its interest never flags, its tension or excitement rarely ebbs. If 
Giraudoux failed to resolve any political problems, he surely managed to resolve some 

difficult dramatic ones. r • x j • 

A statement by Harold Clurman, who staged Tiger at the Gates, hrst m London m 
lune 19^^ and then in New York, is significant. Mr. Clurman, contributing a pre- 
premiere article to The New York Times of October 2, 1955, declared that his purpose 
was "to shape the acting into elements so dynamic in their physical and emotional 
thrusts that the play's balance of strong action, explosive feeling, sparkle and dignity of 
expression might be rendered palpable ..." For this purpose he believed that well- 
spoken actors "experienced in poetic drama — both classic and contemporary — 
were essential " That was a chief reason why the production, which was projected by 
American producers, was first presented in London with an all-English cast. Most 
members of that cast were brought over from England for the American presentation 
of Tiger at the Gates. 

The dates of the first performances of the plays of Jean Giraudoux in Paris follow: 
Siegfried — May 3 , 1928 
Amphitrjon 3S — November 8, 1929 
Judith — November 4, 193 i 

Intermezzo (The Enchanted in America) — February 27, 193 3 
La Guerre de Troie n' aura pas lieu (Tiger at the Gates in England and America) — 

November 21, 1935" 

Electra — May I3,i937 ,it^i\/-»^U 

Cantique des Cantiques (The Song of Songs, as yet unproduced on Broadway) — October 

12, 1938 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 29 

Ondine — May 3 , 1939 

VApoUon de Marsac (later called VApoUon de Bellac, adapted by Maurice Valency under 

the title of The Apollo of Bellac) — June 6, 1942 
Sodome et Gomorrhe (as yet unproduced on Broadway) — October 1 1, 1943 
La Folk de Chaillot (The Madwoman of Chaillot) — December 21, 1945- 
Pour Lucrece (For Lucretia, as yet [19^:6] unproduced in the United States) — November 

5, 19^3 



THE LARK 

The passage of time may reverse our verdict on the plays of Anouilh w^hich w^e 
rejected so brusquely w^hen they w^ere presented on Broadw^ay, for it may have been 
the adaptations and the productions that put us off in the case of Eurjdice^ renamed 
Legend for Lovers, and the seemingly loathsome Crj of the Peacock. In time, we may also 
reverse our judgment of Anouilh 's V Alouette and conclude that we overrated that 
work, which is surely inferior to Saint Joan and somewhat akin to Joan of Lorraine. It may 
turn out that the vast enthusiasm that greeted The Lark on Broadway was engendered by 
the combined contribution of Lillian Hellman and Julie Harris as adapter and star- 
actress respectively. Indeed, many articulate New Yorkers were apt to say so from the 
start of the play's run, although there was more agreement concerning the star's 
contribution than the adapter's; for there were hardy readers who, resorting to the 
French text or to Christopher Fry's straight translation which Oxford University Press 
published, compared the original play and the adaptation. 

Not all of these were partial to the former even while deprecating the latter. Alice 
Griffin in the May 19^6 issue of Theatre Arts magazine summarized the views of the 
prosecution. Noting that the adaptation was shorter than the original by a third, she 
declared that it lacked "the spirit and tone of Anouilh's original." She added that 
"Miss Hellman's version ... is romantic while Fry's, like Anouilh's, is ironic and 
witty; the latter appeals to the head, while Miss Hellman appeals to the heart." 
To which, a proper rejoinder might be that it isn't much of a head that Anouilh 
appealed to in the first place, and that irony in a retelling of Joan's story is by now a 
shopworn article. 

And it may be maintained that for all the cynical pinpricks of Anouilh's original 
treatment, its core is as romantic as any believer in the glory of men and women 
would have it. As the author of the first English book on him, Edward Owen Marsh, has 
declared, Anouilh's plays so far "have the attitude of youth clothed in the observation 
of age" and "are in fact the product of an obsession with an idealist's problems, not 
of a reasoning out of them."* In The Lark, the romanticism, for example, is surely 
apparent when Anouilh makes a character comment on the final coronation scene, 
that "the real end of Joan's story . , . isn't the powerful and miserable end of the 
cornered animal caught at Rouen, but the lark singing in the open sky." Miss Hell- 
man's making Joan exclaim at the end of the coronation scene that she wanted the 
Dauphin Charles crowned "because I wanted my country back . . . And God gave 
it to us on this Coronation Day" actually gives substance to the romantic afflatus of the 
coronation scene. It introduces sense rather than a new romantic element into the 
play — and there are times w^hen the present writer is delighted to see Anouilh pinned 
dowTi to something concrete. The French writer's Antigone, for instance, would not 
have been the futile, nihilistic piece and the decadent variation of Sophocles' tragedy 
that it is, if Anouilh had pinned himself down more to reality. 

There have been areas of evasiveness in Anouilh's general outlook which have 
produced great charm for amateur theatricals and for a theatre of civilized diversion 

* Jean Anouilh: Poet of Pierrot and Pantaloon (London, W. H. Allen & Co., 19^3). PP- 198, 198-99. 



3° 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 



in some of his "rosy" comedies or so-called pieces roses. His poetic farce The Thieves' 
Carnival (he Bal des Voleurs) will probably be a favorite piece for amateurs for a long 
time precisely because its semi-fantastic world of three grossly inefficient thieves and 
some scrambled members of aristocratic and middle-class society evokes the spirit of 
play in the playgoer as well as in the player. (The latter is indeed in danger of perform- 
ing in this piece as if he were extraordinarily pleased with himself because he is so 
charming.) And in England especially, Anouilh's charade-like comedy V Invitation au 
Chateau which Christopher Fry adapted under the title of Ring Round the Moon, won a 
rapturous reception in 19^0. It had its occasions of penetration into character, but its 
action moved dreamily through a world of mistaken identities and tenuous threads of 
pretense Anouilh was able to resolve his shadowy conflicts here with a blithe arbi- 
trariness that was not objectionable in view of the fantastication of the work. It was a 
different matter, however, whenever Anouilh, turning to his favorite theme of the 
corruption of society and the individual, wrote his "darker" plays, the so-called 
pieces noires. In such pieces, ranging from a drama of disenchantment such as Mademoi- 
selle Colowhe to a drama of tragic temper such as Antigone, Anouilh has tended to 
produce puzzling and sometimes frustrating variations on the bankruptcy of the human 
spirit The American production of The Lark in the i9^^-^6 season may have given 
Anouilh his first real success, after seven successive Broadway fiascoes m the United 
States largely owing to the fact that Lillian Hellman gave the play some directness and 
affirmLtiveness. It is far from certain that when Anouilh engages himself to a tragic 
theme his ambivalences and nihilism — the qualities a German publication, the Tages- 
spieael, aptly called his ' ' melancholische Skepsis' — are assets. ^, , , 

Among continental European plays professionally produced here, The lark as 
trimmed and tightened or, shall we say, "tautened," by Lillian Hellman, is neither 
characteristic of Anouilh's playwriting nor of Miss Hellman's. The amalgam, however, 
proved intensely effective on the stage. "What results," Richard Watts, Jf- w^ote in 
the }^ew York Tost, "is a compassionate, admiring and yet steadily realistic and believable 
portrait ' ' And Walter Kerr, in the Nevy York Herald Tribune, expressed the relief of 
playgoers who had dreaded seeing another story of Joan when he declared that "the 
familiar events seem freshly lived." Our response was, not strangely, similar to the 
German reception of the play when it was staged by Leo Mittler in Ber in on December 
30, 19^3. One review, in the Bremer Nachrichten, actually called Die Lerche (The Lark) 
Anouilh's strongest and best play. . 

We may add, however, that we did not greatly examine our responses. Curiously, 
few reviewers took note of the unique organization of the drama, which, both m the 
original and in Miss Hellman's adaptation, starts with the theatrical assumption that the 
characters in Joan's drama want to reenact Joan's story, proceeds by means of flash- 
backs toward the climax of her execution, and then cuts back to the scene in which 
loan managed to get Charles crowned King of France. The use of a climax after the 
climax was also a bold stroke of imaginative theatricality. It was evident m our 
response to The Lark, as to The Madwoman of Chaillot, that the art of imaginative theatre, 
brought to a peak in France by Copeau's successors Dullin and Jouvet, had begun at 
long last to make inroads into our predominantly realistic theatre. 

Anouilh, who started out with a theatrical background, having been bom on June 2 3 , 
1 910 in Bordeaux to a mother who played the violin at performances of numerous 
operettas he was allowed to attend as a child (at least up to the first intermission) 
came directly from the tradition of these renovators of the stage. And at the age of 
twenty-two, after a year and a half at law school and two years in an advertising 
company, Anouilh became secretary to Louis Jouvet's company-from which he 
borrowed the scenery of Giraudoux's Siegfried in order to start housekeeping with a 
young actress wife. Such other leaders of the French movement to retheatricalize the 
theatre" as Pierre Fresnay and George Pitoeff also played an important part in Anouilh s 
career the latter having given him his first real financial success in i937- Thereafter an 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 31 

Anouilh play was produced almost every season at the advanced Theatre de L' Atelier. 
It is theatricality of a literary and philosophical nature that has been most characteristic 
of Anouilh' s work. So much so that he has been adept in using character types, in 
exaggerating characters stagily, and in contriving and resolving events "improbably." 
He believed, as he declared to the press as early as 1936, "that the dramatist could and 
should plaj with his characters, with their passions, and their actions." And he added 
that to "play" with a subject — and he has done so occasionally, as in The Waltz of the 
Toreadors, in such a way that his farce veers on tragedy and his humor on painful 
irony — is "to create a new world of conventions and surround it with spells and a 
magic of their own."* Peter Brook, who staged Ring Round the Moon in London, vv^as 
quite correct in saying of Anouilh that "He is a poet, but not a poet of words : he is 
a poet of words-acted, of scenes-set, of players-performing." (Preface to Ring Round 
the Moon, Methuen & Co., Ltd., 19^0.) 

Still, it is possible to wonder whether Anouilh did not "play" too much with his 
subject in making the characters in The Lark "real" yet also actor-characters who have 
been reenacting the story of Joan and who can cut back to any episode and in any 
sequence at will. (The Hellman adaptation tries to glide over this arbitrary theatricali- 
zation of the action, just as it omits the ironical last speech of Joan's unpleasant father 
who tells her little brother just before the coronation tableau to take his fingers away 
from his nose — "£t tire tes doigts de ton nez" — and observe the honor that has come 
to Joan who, he had always said, had a future: ''''favais toujours dit moi, que cette petite 
avait de Vavenir^^ — a detail omitted in both the Fry and Hellman versions. Thereupon 
the coronation scene is formally enacted in broad pantomime and the curtain slowly 
descends on a picture-book tableau — "le rideau tombe lentement sur cette belle image de 
livre de prix,'' rendered by Fry as "The Curtain slowly descends on this beautiful 
illustration from a school prize" and ignored by Miss Hellman, whose version ends 
with the solemn singing of the "Gloria" of the Mass. Indeed, the last dozen speeches 
in her version are entirely her own, so that the text I have included in this book 
affords an excellent example of the ways of adaptation. The reasons for Miss Hellman's 
alterations and changes are apparent ; they supply the exaltation the American playgoer 
expects from the story of Joan. But there are losses, too, even if one need not be 
particularly impressed with the whole of Anouilh 's original ending. The Inquisitor's 
last line in the original is superb. With his eyes averted from the scene of execution, 
he has asked whether Joan was flinching and has been told that she wasn't; he has 
asked whether there was a smile on her lips and has been told that there was. Thereupon, 
with his head bowed, he says sorrowfully, "Je ne le vaincrai jamais^ ^ — "I shall never 
be able to master him," meaning the Devil. In the American adaptation he merely 
says, "I have seen it all before." 

In conclusion, the reader should perhaps be referred to Anouilh's own statement 
of his view of The Lark as printed in the program of the French production which 
opened at the Theatre Montpamasse Gaston Baty on October 14, 19 s^, with Suzanne 
Flon in the part of Joan. In this explanation, Anouilh dismissed rational analysis of 
Joan's career, "the mystery of Joan." She could not be explained "any more than 
you can explain the tiniest flower growing by the wayside." For him there was "just 
the phenomenon of Joan, as there is a phenomenon of a daisy or of the sky or of a 
bird." Shaw, in writing Saint Joan, wanted to know and show more than that. 
Anouilh exclaimed, "What pretentious creatures men are, if that's not enough for 
them" and claimed to have presented Joan without knowing more about the secret 
of her inspiration than a child imitating a bird-song knows about ornithology. 



See Jean Anouilh, by Edward Owen Marsh (London : W. H. Allen &Co., 19^3), p. 189. 



32 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 

Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) is too well known as a novelist to be discussed here, 
especially since his playwriting was a divagation, if an unusually inspired one, into an 
essentially alien field. In addition to writing some amusing one-act pieces, he composed 
several studies of character noteworthy for their subtlety. Turgenev had a talent for 
the exposition of feelings his characters tried to conceal or did not fully comprehend, 
as well as for affecting contrasts between his characters' dreams and their failure to 
fulfill them. Especially appealing are the one-acters The Lady from the Provinces and 
Where It is Thin, There It Breaks^ the study of a provincial Hamlet and a sensitive but 
resolute girl who tires of his irresolution as a lover. Effective, too, are A Poor Gentleman, 
a study in failure and irony, and The Bachelor, a quiet comedy about a gentleman and 
his young ward which is the ideal counterpart to Moliere's The School for Wives, since 
the bachelor-guardian is a wonderfully sympathetic character and is rewarded with 
the girl's love. 

But Turgenev's masterpiece is, without question, A Month in the Country, written in 
1849, and it was, besides, a Chekhovian masterpiece long before Chekhov began to 
write for the stage. "Had this play been written by a contemporary playwright," 
declared Allardyce Nicoll in his World Drama, "it would have been made into a 
drama of the grand passion" — which it obviously isn't in Turgenev's treatment. The 
young man, the tutor loved by two women, would have been the hero of the play 
rather than an indifferent and unromantic character. "In a French play, too, ' ' Professor 
Nicoll, thinking of the French "well-made" play formula, continued, "the 'intrigue' 
would have been concentrated and made economic with respect to means," whereas 
Turgenev "not only introduces numerous scenes of no importance for the development 
of the plot, but brings in lengthy speeches entirely unrelated, except by emotional 
implication, to the main story," a fact which may not be altogether evident in the 
abbreviated version made — and made quite well — by Emlyn Williams. 

Although Turgenev did not expect his play to reach the stage, it did get a production 
some twenty years after it was written, by which time the author had long ago 
renounced all intentions of writing plays. (These were all products of his youth; he 
stopped trying to write for the theatre at the age of thirty- three. ) Production apparent- 
ly gave him no reason to revise his decision. But, a quarter of a century after his death, 
in 1909, the Moscow Art Theatre ended his exile from the theatre by successfully 
sX.2ig\T\gA Month in the Country. And it was especially appropriate that the part of Natalia, 
the love-sick provincial wife, should have been played in this production by Chekhov 's 
widow, the celebrated Olga Knipper. 

It should be added that the Ernlyn Williams version used by our Phoenix Theatre 
was first presented in London on February 1 1, 1943 at the St. James' Theatre, with 
Valerie Taylor in the role of the distressed lady Natalie Petrovna, and Michael Redgrave, 
who staged the 19^6 Phoenix Theatre production, in the part of the platonic lover 
Rakitin. This version was produced again by the Old Vic in 195^0 vs^ith direction by 
Michel Saint-Denis. 

Since A Month in the Country is a novelist's play it is perhaps necessary to remind 
ourselves that, except for its length, which caused even the Moscow Art Theatre to 
abbreviate its dialogue drastically (as did Emlyn Williams in the version printed here), 
this is a highly theatrical work. Audiences of the Theatre Guild and Phoenix Theatre 
productions had no difficulty in sensing that it was. Literary critics may have found it 
more difficult to arrive at this realization, especially if they were impressed by the 
association of realism with the work of both Turgenev and the Moscow Art Theatre. 
It is true, nevertheless, that Turgenev instinctively satisfied the requirements of good 
theatre without violating realism of characterization and viewpoint. He created a 
number of good acting parts and several excellent ones in his play, and one virtuoso 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 33 

role in the character of NataHa. The characters convince us of their reality, but they 
also belong to the theatre through the vividness of their conduct and the intensity 
of their concentration upon w^hatever they happen to be doing or feeling. Turgenev, 
furthermore, created great playing scenes such as those singled out by Michael 
Redgrave from his experience with the play to prove that at its core "is the gold of 
pure theatre". In an introduction to the English adaptation, Mr. Redgrave called 
attention to the scene "where Natalia lays bare Vera's heart; the scenes where 
Rakitin and Natalia — she needing his help and he ready to give it — turn against 
each other ; the Doctor's courtship of Lizaveta ; Vera's challenge to Natalia ; the parting 
scene of Islaev [Natalia's husband] and Rakitin and the whole glorious, gay and yet 
autumnal ending ..." 

Superbly "theatre" yet movingly real as well — and complexly so — are the 
soliloquies that reveal the characters. (Soliloquies, we will recall, were to be banished 
from the theatre by dogmatic naturalism within several decades of the composition 
of A Month in the Country. ) And, finally, one can have nothing but admiration for the 
tact with which Turgenev avoided a maudlin presentation of Natalia's and Vera's 
emotional state and gave the play as a whole a basically anti-romantic, comic quality 
by gently exposing the theatricality of his lovelorn heroine and other characters. 

Mr. Redgrave has reminded us of the importance of the fact that Natalia is only 
twenty-nine, so that her situation is not that "of an aging woman suffering from . . . 
the humiliation of a desperate last fling." If she believes that her infatuation with the 
young tutor is a last fling "we should know from the look of her that it is not" and 
we should smile when she refers to herself and her thirty-year-old platonic lover 
Rakitin as "We old people." And Rakitin himself, although surely not a subject for 
vulgar laughter because he cannot "make" his friends' wife, is nevertheless a comic 
character. He is caught in an attachment more disconcerting than overpowering. He is 
a man whose keen intelligence is as much of a disadvantage to him as a lover as are 
his good breeding and sense of honor. Moreover, Rakitin, a role originally played by 
Stanislavsky himself, is rather acutely aware of his situation and dramatizes it to 
himself and to Natalia. Turgenev's theatrical treatment of these and several other 
self-dramatizing characters (except Vera, the girl who suddenly acquires womanly 
stature in the course of events) is one of affectionate mockery. 

A Month in the Country owes its fascination indeed to a multi-faceted reality and 
theatricality not easily exhausted in a single reading. It challenged its professional 
producers, and it will long remain a challenge to actors and directors in English. 
Fortunately, the potential results are extraordinarily rewarding, as both the Theatre 
Guild and the Phoenix Theatre productions proved in New York. 



MY THREE ANGELS 

No one will mistake Mj Three Angels for anything but the entertainment it is. Nor 
will anyone who knows the New York stage be amazed that the essentially amoral, or 
shall we say amoral-sentimental, comedy of a hitherto unknown French writer (the 
original La Cuisine des Anges was Albert Husson's first play to be performed on the 
Parisian professional stage) should have been successfully re-created by Sam and Bella 
Spewack. The married couple, bothborn in the same year, 1899, are Russian and 
Hungarian respectively. Sam Spewack had enjoyed European connections ever since he 
had covered the Geneva Conference in 1922 — he was even press attache for our 
embassy in Moscow in 1943. Bella Spewack had served as a press agent for The 
Miracle, the Chauve Souris^ and the visiting musical studio of the Moscow Art Theatre 
during the twenties. This playwriting team, which had proved proficiency in farce- 
comedy with Bof Meets Girl and with the "book" for Kiss Me Kate, possessed the savoir 
faire for improving relations with European farceurs and contrivers of amoral comedy 



34 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

who can convert even penal-colony convicts into companionable fellov^s. And our 
international relations on this level had long needed improving. Most of our favors had 
been lavished on confectionery for w^hich the eighteenth-century French term of 
tearful comedy or comedie larmoyante remains an apt definition, unless we should adopt 
the even apter one of Kitsch from the German language. Kitsch, a trumpery quality, 
might indeed have vitiated a play in which innocence is protected by soft-hearted 
swindlers and murderers but for the tactful ministrations of the adapters who brought 
a becoming insouciance to the subject matter. 

As a result of the combined efforts of the Spewacks and Monsieur Husson, La 
Cuisine des Anges, literally "Angels' Cooking," possessed a fine icing of paradox and 
irony more frequent in European theatres than in our own. And, fortunately, the irony 
of criminals doing the work of angels in defending goodness against villainy, was casual 
and genial, so that the confection was not too tart for our playgoing public. The 
writing was farcical rather than sardonic, whimsically impudent rather than acidulous ; 
and homicide in this piece could be considered no more outrageous than the triumph 
of virtue could be considered uplifting. In short, the play, escaping the disabilities of 
some superior Continental comedies for production on our stage — of, shall we say, 
Becque's La Parisienne and Wedekind's The Marquis of Keith — was inviolably popular in 
its ingredients. In Paris, Albert Husson, whose next New York production — Les 
Paves de del (Heaven's Paving-stones) adapted as The Heavenly Tvi^ins — was a disaster, 
won the 195^2 Tristan Bernard prize for La Cuisine des Anges. In New York, the Spe- 
wacks won no prizes to speak of, but their adaptation, Mj Three Angels, won the material 
reward of a long Broadway run. 



ONDINE 

Ondine, with its medieval setting and supernatural element, may have been an effort 
on Giraudoux's part to escape for a while from the pressures of events that were coming 
to a head in a war that had seemed inevitable to the author while writing his ironic 
forecast. The Trojan War Will Not Take Place, several years earlier. A year or so before 
the outbreak of World War II, Giraudoux, then active in the French diplomatic 
service, turned to a story about a water-sprite or ondine lost in the human world, a 
fairy tale that had been told more than a century before by a German descendant of 
French Huguenots, La Motte Fouque, in his Undine. Giraudoux, in any case, did not 
consider his interest in his new play Ondine incompatible with his concern over the inter- 
national situation. Perhaps it is symbolic of his dual life as artist and public official that 
he should have left a copy of Ondine with Miss Helbum and me while he was on a 
diplomatic mission. His rueful fairy-tale, in which a mortal gains an ideal love only 
to betray it in the end, may be regarded as a sublimation through art of the disen- 
chantment of Giraudoux the political observer and social thinker. Nor did the writing 
of Ondine represent a radically new tendency in the literary career of a playwright 
whose bent had always been toward poetry and fantasy, and whose dialogue had always 
had a much richer texture than the dialogue of most of his contemporaries. 

Ondine was intended by Giraudoux for the imaginative, non-realistic theatre — * 'the 
theatre theatrical" — for which his producer Louis Jouvet had become renowned 
along with other disciples of the path-breaking Jacques Copeau. Jouvet staged the play 
in Paris in the spring of 1939 with himself in the role of Hans, the inadequate mortal 
husband of a water-spirit, and with Madeleine Ozeray playing the hapless Ondine. 
There was considerable delay, however, in transplanting the play to Manhattan. 
Schuyler Watts had made a translation that did not get beyond the stage of receiving 
an amateur production on May 19, 1949, at the little theatre in the Barbizon- Plaza 
hotel from which few plays graduate to Broadway. Some time then elapsed before 
Maurice Valency, who had successfully adapted The Madwoman of Chaillot by the same 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 3^ 

author, could be prevailed upon to prepare a new English version for Broadw^ay, and 
the preparation of a production v^as no easy matter until the services of the greatly 
sought-after Audrey Hepburn w^ere acquired. 

When the play w^as finally staged — and it w^as staged rather more operatically than 
some of Giraudoux' admirers could approve — it vv^as apparent that the play did not 
fit snugly into our theatre. It w^as a pathetic story rather than a profound or keen drama, 
yet it hinted at profundity ; explication could arrive at profundity, but common sense 
w^ould easily dissipate it. The play, besides, required sympathy from the playgoer, yet 
kept him at some distance because the lovers w^ere a supernatural creature that cannot 
be destroyed and a man w^ho cannot be awakened to either ecstasy or tragic pain. A 
man who is, as Mr. Valency put it in some comments on the play, *'a social being tied 
to the mundane by a thousand living threads" and a hero whose despair "plumbs no 
depths beyond wretchedness." With limitations such as these, Ondine is probably 
difficult to stage with complete success under any circumstances. It is significant, for 
example, that fault was found with the playing of Hans whether it was Hollywood's 
Mel Ferrer or the Parisian theatre's great actor Jouvet who played the part. 

By comparison with a drama truly rooted in folk-tradition such as The Dybbuk, 
Giraudoux's urbanely written, if still touching and rueful, play cannot be said to come 
alive as myth ; and by the same token it cannot come wholly alive as reality. Ondine 
derives from a "literary" fairy-tale and the work of the playwright was a redaction and 
interpretation of something that was already literature. Yet it does not seem right to 
complain that a work of disenchantment lacks spontaneity and that a play which makes 
a point of man's inability to give himself up completely to the wonder in life is deficient 
in magic. ("There is the side [in Hans, the typical man] that yearns for the infinite," 
Mr. Valency has written. "There is the side that yearns for its dinner . . . His soul 
longs for beauty, for the absolute, the transcendental ; when he attains it he has no use 
for it; it oppresses him." Mr. Valency further volunteered the opinion that the story 
of Ondine, with its knight's wavering between the unworldly sprite and the all-too- 
human fleshly Bertha is "the story of marriage." ) Even so, a suitably ethereal spirit in 
the characterization of Ondine was brought to the stage in Audrey Hepburn's playing, 
and some magic survived the worldliness and irony of the treatment in the text. 
Ondine, whatever its patent limitations, was a rare experience for American playgoers 
accustomed to mundane realism. It came to many of them not only as a tour deforce 
of the imagination but as a wistful statement on mankind's eternal fluctuation between 
dream and reality. 



THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT 

With the Alfred de Liagre production of La FoUe de Chaillot or The Madwoman of 
Chaillot on December 27, 1948, Giraudoux acquired the status of a major playwright 
in the United States that had already been granted him for some time across the At- 
lantic. By then, however, the career of Giraudoux had ended: bom in 1882, he had 
died in 1944, and The Madwoman of Chaillot was a posthumous work that brought honor 
to its author in America that had not been extended to him for previous productions. 
Eva Le Gallienne's presentation of his early post-war drama Siegfried at her Civic 
Repertory Theatre had only succeeded in puzzling her public and the Theatre Guild 
presentation of his classic comedy Amphitryon 38, a. huge success with the Lunts in 
1938, was welcomed in S. N. Behrman's neat abbreviation and adaptation more as a 
bedroom farce than as the complex comedy it was in the original with its philosophical 
overtones and its opulent pile of literary dialogue. 

Giraudoux first won a reputation in France with novels little known in America. 
But one of these, which dealt with the amnesia of a French soldier who believes 
himself to be a German, brought him into the theatre. Siegfried, the title of both the 



36 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

novel and the play, was an attention-arresting work, especially on the stage, because 
it dealt with the problem of Franco- German relations that might well agitate playgoers 
whose memories of the holocaust of World War I were still quite fresh. The play was 
a plea for international understanding and expressed the convictions of Giraudoux the 
citizen and the civil servant. But its message was so imaginatively projected and ex- 
pressed with such subtle dialogue that Siegfried, regardless of its faults of contrivance 
and overlengthy discussions, also introduced Giraudoux as a potential master of poetic 
meditation and argument. The same promise was also apparent in his unsuccessful 
biblical drama Judith (193 i), a way and penetrative dramatization of the conflict 
between complex personal motivation and the single-tracked demands of national 
interest. His treatment of the Oresteian theme in his Electro (first staged by Louis 
Jouvet in 1937) again combined the social and the poetic prepossessions of the author, 
the theme being the error and evil of vengefulness even when the cause is just. It was 
memorable for its imaginative theatrical action and dazzlingly embroidered dialogue 
and monologue. Judith and Electra evidenced their author's endeavor to effectuate 
himself as a tragic poet, and it may yet be that adequate stage productions will reveal a 
facet of Giraudoux 's talent still unknown to the American playgoing public. 

Still, it was the Giraudoux of ultra-modem comic art who won both a national and 
international reputation. It is an art that is at once witty and poetic, wonderfully clear 
at the edges and fascinatingly ambiguous at the core. This may be said of even so 
popular a play as his Amphitryon 38 in the original, and of his Intermezzo, called The 
Enchanted in the Maurice Valency adaptation that rather befuddled and only in- 
termittently interested Broadway playgoers. In Intermezzo, indeed, the author's comic 
fancy was brilliantly theatrical and, at the same time, hauntingly poetic, although the 
interest was somewhat intermittent and the mingling of the human and the supernatural 
in the play was somewhat disturbing to a public accustomed to simpler dramaturgy 
from most of its native playwrights. And, finally, the humorous and serious sides of 
Giraudoux's talent and his joint aptitudes for comedy of manners and imaginative 
extravaganza whipped up that most delightful, as well as most mentally nourishing, of 
modern souffles. La Folle de Chaillot. 

If The Madwoman oj Chaillot, written just before the playwright's death, in 1943, is 
not perhaps the very best of Giraudoux' plays — strong claims may be pressed for 
Tiger at the Gates and perhaps for Electra — it is certainly the final distillation of his art 
of dramatic poetry and social satire, which may have led Theatre Arts magazine to define 
the play as "one part fantasy, two parts reason." The definition would indeed be an 
acceptable one if it were understood that the fantasy functions in the service of the 
author's critical reason and that Giraudoux's reasoning is so poetic in discourse and so 
inventive that it is fantastic. The Madwoman of Chaillot exemplifies reason-charged 
fantasy and fantastic reason. It is, in short, the dream of a complex and ultra-civilized 
man. That the man should have become the spokesman of the complex and ultra- 
civilized French nation in his native theatre is understandable. That he should have 
also won an appreciative hearing in our own theatre is a marvel that remains to be 
accounted for. 

He did not win it without assistance from his American producer and stage director 
Mr. Alfred de Liagre, and his American adapter, however much critics might cavil. 
Mr. De Liagre was decorated by the French government for his part in Giraudoux's 
triumph on our stage after The Madwoman was awarded the New York Critics Circle 
prize as the best foreign play of the year. Mr. Valency, a popular professor of com- 
parative literature at Columbia University, received commissions to adapt such other 
Giraudoux fables as Intermezzo and Ondine. And his success as an adapter was an indirect 
reward for years of frustration as an interesting playwright in his own right. One of 
his plays, an original version of the Alcestis under the title of The Thracian Horses, had 
been frequently slated for a Broadway production which somehow never materialized. 
It is true that the Giraudoux composition that reached American playgoers — after 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 37 

an earlier and fuller yet quite cumbersome translation had gone the rounds on Broad- 
way — was a thinned-out one. The geyser of Giraudoux's language had been reduced 
to a manageable English stream. The adapter admitted as much, and for all the finger- 
pointing of George Jean Nathan as well as the tongue-lashing Professor Valency was to 
receive in literary quarterlies, some points could be raised in extenuation of his 
procedure. It could be argued that half a loaf of Giraudoux's yeasty commodity was 
better than none, and that in the case of so bizarre and "baroque" a work as The 
Madwoman (a grotesque work by comparison with the classic contours, if by no means 
classic spirit, of the earlier- written Tiger at the Gates^ which Broadway presented in a 
translation rather than an adaptation seven years later) there would have been none at 
all but for Valency's moderating services. Something, moreover, could be said amid 
all the tributes to Giraudoux that would acknowledge the limitations of the original 
play. And something was later said, very aptly indeed, by Eric Bentley in the New 
Republic of March 8, 195^4, in connection with the production of the author's earlier- 
written Ondine. Mr. Bentley, while granting that Giraudoux was "a first-rank man of 
letters consecrating his maturity to the theatre" and that his plays "constitute a claim 
to vast originality," offered the qualification that in his work "thought is more im- 
portant than action" and "words are more important than thought." If all the words 
in The Madwoman — the words that give it so rich a vitality in French — had been left 
intact, they might not indeed have buried the thought (the "thought" that is surely 
nothing very profound whether considered as philosophy or social criticism) but they 
might have buried the American playgoer. And for all the emphasis that is properly 
put on the verbal texture of Giraudoux' plays, his effectiveness as a dramatic poet, even 
perhaps in French but surely in English, is mainly in the invention of the action (very 
apparent in the mad noblewoman's plot to destroy the French nation's speculators, 
which sustains the drama) and in the zany characterizations — tender in the case of the 
"madwoman" and her friends — which are at their best an action too. These consider- 
ations, however, have not been intended for the praise or defense of the American 
adaptation. They are intended instead to express a view of Giraudoux, undoubtedly 
the most gifted foreign playwright to be taken by us at something like his true worth, 
if hardly in complete measure, after the second World War. 

John Mason Brown called The Madwoman "one of the most interesting and rewarding 
plays to have been written within the last twenty years, ' ' and Brooks Atkinson referred 
to it as "pure gold, with no base metal." George Jean Nathan hailed it in the New 
York journal- American issue of August 25^, 1947, more than a year prior to its Broadway 
debut, as a work endowed with "an enveloping and irresistible humor," with "all 
kinds of little imaginative touches," and with a social theme developed in an ironic 
direction that saved the play from the boredom attendant upon most message-plays. 
For the sake of accuracy it is necessary to report, however, that Mr. Nathan was 
considerably less enthusiastic about the production he saw at the Belasco Theatre and 
about the adaptation, to which he attributed "a frosty air of classroom precision." He 
would have preferred a more exuberant production and a more effusive translation. 

A fanciful exuberance and much effusiveness, as well as a general impression of im- 
provisation (evident, for example, in the prose-poem at the end of the first act, pared 
down in English), were indeed essential to The Madwoman. Some of the original 
long passages abbreviated in the adaptation and some of the extravagance of personality 
moderated by the Broadway cast had obviously been intended for the theatrically 
heightened acting Giraudoux could expect from Louis Jouvet's company. Giraudoux 
had discussed the play with Jouvet and started writing it in 1942. And Jouvet, who 
also played the role of the ragpicker performed in New York rather mutedly by John 
Carradine, presented The Madwoman at his theatre on December 19, 1945^, with all the 
affectionate care he had given to previous Giraudoux productions. It does not follow, 
however, that there was only one way of staging this elusive comic fantasy. Nor is it 
certain that Giraudoux attained a really final form for his play — which he did not live 



38 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

to see produced, even if individual scenes, such as the mad tea-party, could hardly be 
improved. As Jouvet himself reported in The New York Times in 1949, Jean Giraudoux 
"wrote three versions of The Madwoman of Chaillot^ of vv^hich two w^ere entirely 
different." It is not at all certain that the play, written by Giraudoux in a time of 
troubles, reached completeness even in the final version. Fortunately, however, even an 
imperfect Madwoman, the product of a truly original mind as well as compassionate 
spirit, is beyond doubt a notably ingratiating achievement. 



NO EXIT 

Jean-Paul Sartre, ex-schoolmaster and former Sorbonne professor, was active in the 
French underground struggle during World War II while writing Huis Clos or No Exit^ 
and the play was produced in Paris about a month before D-day in 1 944. Sartre vv^as 
also a philosopher, the leading exponent indeed of atheistic and nihilistic Existentialism 
which he had just formulated at formidable length in his treatise on "being and non- 
being," VEtre et le neant. Some five years earlier he had also given imaginative versions 
of his view of the "nothingness" of life in two works of fiction, the novel Nausea and a 
collection of short stories entitled The Wall. By 1943, however, his view of man's 
condition and potentialities in a godless and pointless universe had acquired a moral, 
indeed puritanical, slant from the positive character of the patriotism in the French 
underground movement. 

Sartre began to stress man's responsibility to himself in consequence of his so-called 
freedom — that is, his freedom from a supernatural power capable of determining his 
fate. Bravely and tragically, in loneliness and in anguish, the existentialist hero was 
to be entirely on his own. Man was compelled indeed to create his own existence ; he 
made himself because what he was as a person — his "existence," so to say — was the 
product of his decisions and deeds. Having called upon men to reject bondage to a 
supernatural ruler, Sartre also urged them to spurn bondage to convention and de- 
pendency upon the opinions of others — a view expressed in No Exit when a character 
is made to say, ^^L^enfer cest les autres'^ — hell is other people. Thus through a self- 
reliance that recalls the Emersonian ideal, though without any Emersonian faith or 
mystique, Sartre called for liberation from self-deception and moral cowardice — in 
effect, for integrity of character in a country which many believed to have collapsed in 
1940 mainly for want of integrity. 

In The Flies, a retelling of the classical Electra-Orestes story, which appeared in 
1943, Sartre showed how this integrity could be won and secured against the pressures 
and deceptions of political and religious despotisms — the despotisms of the guilty 
couple. Queen Clytemnestra and King Aegistheus, and of Zeus. In No Exit, concen- 
trating on characters who are precisely what the lives they led has made them, Sartre 
exposed the lack of integrity, the moral cowardice and self-deception, he found 
prevalent in the modem world. And he symbolically represented the condign punish- 
ment of his "sinners" as incarceration with others of their kind upon whose opinion, 
owing to their lack of inner freedom, they are eternally dependent. Hell in No Exit 
(also known in a 1946 British production as Vicious Circle) , is, indeed, this dependency 
— "hell is other people." It is all the more that since in Sartre's inferno the characters 
are stripped of their evasions in front of each other. 

Sartre, while becoming the head of a briefly fashionable cult in Paris and becoming 
involved in both literary and political conflicts, went on to write other plays, the 
latest and most ambitious being Le Diahle et le Bon Dieu (God and the DevilJ which 
opened in Paris in June 19^1. Those that have won some attention from us thus far 
have been a sardonic and wildly implausible play about our deep South, La putain 
respectueuse (1946) or The Respectful Prostitute, which enjoyed a moderate success here; 
an existentialist Resistance melodrama, Morts sans sepulture ( 1 946 ), adapted by Thornton 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 39 

Wilder and called The Victors in a good New York production that was too gruesome 
for popularity; and a play full of political ambivalences, Les mains sales (1948), called 
for inscrutable reasons Red Gloves in America instead of "Dirty Hands" (meaning as 
Sartre declared to the press, "that no one who lives and acts can avoid dirty hands") 
and given a confusing production despite excellent playing by Charles Boyer and others. 
No Exity however, remains the most concentrated expression of Sartre's pristine talent 
for the drama — a talent which while by no means unflawed by discursiveness and 
grand-guignol sensationalism had, in its first manifestations of the 1943-44 period, 
moral passion, if not compassion, and bold, if not altogether original, inventiveness. 
These characteristics appear especially in the situation, well described by Lynton 
Hudson in Life and the Theatre : "In this room without mirrors in which to see themselves 
and unable to close their eyes, for their eyelids have disappeared — il faut vivre lesyeux 
ouverts . . . pour toujours — they can only read their judgment in one another's eyes, 
and the other always judges by results, by what he sees, not by the conflicting motives, 
the noble aspirations, that lie beneath the surface." 



JACOBOWSKY AND THE COLONEL 

Among refugees from the holocaust Hitler's hordes were spreading over Europe, 
Franz Werfel, who was bom in Prague in 1 890 and died in Beverly Hills in 1945^, had 
the good fortune of bringing with him a dual talent — a triple talent, indeed, if we 
include one for writing disinguished poetry. He was a playwright and novelist of 
long-standing reputation. But, until the success oi Jacobowsky and the Colonel in 1944, 
it was as a novelist that he was really known in the United States, where The Forty Days 
of Musa Dagh (1934) and The Song of Bernadette (1942) gave him a popular reputation 
and a good livelihood. His plays, like his short masterpiece in the field of fiction. Class 
Reunion, had been slighted here, and he had apparently resigned himself to permanent 
exile from our theatre after the poor reception of the Theatre Guild's productions of 
The Goat Song a.nd Juarez and Maximilian in 1926 and the debacle of his epic on the 
mission and burden of the Jewish people. The Eternal Road, in New York in 1936. 
The fall of France stirred Werfel to return to the theatre and to bring to the treatment 
of this catastrophe his familiar sympathy and romantic flair for the celebration of 
courage and the noble gesture, as well as his knowledge of European class distinctions. 

It was also fortunate for the career of the new pldiyjacobowsky and the Colonel that the 
Theatre Guild prevailed upon the vivacious Elia Kazan to stage it and upon S. N. 
Behrman to give it the benefit of a tart comic style. In the final form oi Jacobowsky and 
the Colonel, Werfel and Behrman wrung affirmative humor from the depression that had 
oppressed the free vv^orld when Paris fell. And more than that, the joint work of 
Werfel and Behrman introduced in our war-time theatre a rare spirit of urbanity 
without the irresponsibleness of indifference or cynicism. Even the unavoidable 
topicality of the subject matter was somewhat modified, since the contrasts between 
the Jewish refugee Jacobowsky and the Polish Colonel were presented as eternal 
within the larger unity of human nature. 

There was hokum, too, in the play, but it was consonant with the flamboyance of 
one of Pilsudsky's flashiest officers and one of the Diaspora's most resourceful citizens. 
Playing the roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza or of Don Giovanni and Leporello 
to each other and to a lady companion who had become a veritable symbol of la belle 
France to them, they were even conscious at times — Jacobowsky all the time and the 
Colonel occasionally — that they were actors in some grotesque tragicomedy re- 
quiring large gestures from them. The flummery of the play, especially as embodied in 
the personalities projected by Louis Calhem and Oscar Karlweis, helped to endear 
this odd comedy to its audiences. There was also some understandable sentimentality 
in the play, but it happily escaped mawkishness on virtually every occasion when the 



40 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

writing seemed to be succumbing to it. And even the melodrama of the next to the 
last scene — a product of Broadway opportunism — was not actually inapposite under 
the circumstances. Chiefly, however, the work was saved by its various manifestations 
of candor, and the American stage was saved by Werfel, late in the course of World 
War II, from the ignominy of not having been able to sustain a single European play on 
the subject of the crisis of the age. 

Jacobowsky and the Colonel, Werfel' s last play, may be considered a climax in his 
career even though this stage piece did not attain the success of Forty Days of Musa Dagh 
and The Song of Bernadette. Werfel, who was born on September lo, i 890, in Prague to 
Jewish parents with a German background, had received an Austrian- German 
education, had attended the University at Leipzig after studying at the University of 
Prague, had also lectured at the University of Leipzig, and then served in the Austrian 
army from 1 9 1 5^ to 1 9 1 7 on the Russian front. After World War I, he settled in Vienna, 
where his success as a novelist and dramatist brought him wealth as well as leadership 
in advanced literary circles. His standing in Germany was just as high as it was in 
Austria, and he was made a member of the Prussian Academy of Art. But he became a 
marked man when the Nazis came to power because of his religion and his liberalism. 
He was expelled from the Prussian Academy of Art in 1933 and his books were 
banned a year later. Werfel prudently moved his residence from Vienna to Paris, but 
when Paris, too, fell to Hitler's forces, Werfel became a full-fledged refugee like his 
Jacobowsky. He fled with Alma Maria Mahler (his wife, the widow of the composer 
Gustav Mahler) to the Cote d'Azur and, soon after, to Marseilles. He tried to cross 
over into Spain, but was turned back at the border and found a temporary refuge at 
Lourdes, where upon hearing for the first time the story of Bernadette, he vowed to 
"sing her song" if he succeeded in escaping capture by the Nazis. He managed to elude 
them and get to Lisbon, and from Portugal got to the United States in the fall of 1940. 
"Jacobowsky" had managed to survive and lived on to fight for humanity with his 
pen in accordance with his credo which he defined as "My only political credo . . . 
to search for humanity everywhere and to avoid barbarism." He kept his promise to 
write the "song" of Bernadette in 1942, and a year or so later wrote his first draft of 
Jacobowsky and the Colonel. 



THE SEA GULL 

When The Sea Gull was first performed at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Peters- 
burg in I 896 — in the then customary and still half-tolerated manner of ham-theatrical- 
ity and pseudo-realism — Chekhov was denounced for having created characters who 
were "mere idiots." He was also castigated for ignoring "the laws of drama" by 
writing a story instead of a play. The one person in the audience who conspicuously 
entertained a different opinion was a prize-winning playwright, Nemirovitch-Dant- 
chenko, soon to become co-founder, with Stanislavski, of the Moscow Art Theatre. 
He seriously considered turning down his "best-play-of-the-year" prize as a tribute to 
Chekhov who, in turn, was resolved to renounce the theatre entirely after the fiasco 
of The Sea Gull. Fortunately, that fiasco was erased within two years by the triumphant 
Moscow Art Theatre production, and the estimate of Chekhov's contribution to the 
stage came to be sharply revised with that production. 

After having seen The Sea Gull with the Lunts in 1938, John Mason Brown wrote 
that "Although Treplev is thinking in terms of dramatic abstractions when he con- 
demns realism . . ., there can be no denying Chekhov managed to turn realism itself 
into a new form of expression when he wrote this play." The Sea Gull was indeed a 
turning point not merely for Chekhov but for the course of realism, even if one could 
not have realized that this would be so several decades before the advent of such 
dramas as Juno and the Vaycock, Awake and Sing, and The Chalk Garden, as well as several 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 41 

years before his own Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. Mr. Brown, 
in his review of March 29, 1938, went on to praise, with no claim to discovery of 
course but still with characteristic justness and wit, Chekhov's genius for letting 
characters seem to speak for themselves, for turning them into "geysers of autobio- 
graphy" yet "transforming their prattle into significant revelation," and for "putting 
inconsequentials to a large purpose." 

Other critics have pin-pointed Chekhov's ability to imagine characters to the 
details of dress and idiosyncrasies, at one extreme, and his lyricism at the other; his 
sympathy and elegiac mood, on the one hand, and his objective and vital humor, on 
the other. Many efforts have been made indeed, to reconcile the seeming contra- 
dictions of Chekhov's artistry. But since his American translator. Stark Young, who 
prepared the translation for the Lunt production, also happened to be one of our most 
distinguished theatrical critics, his views are the most reliable: The lyricism, Mr. 
Young observed, is intrinsic to the vitality of the characters instead of being super- 
imposed on the characterization. The characters excite Chekhov, and "there is a curious 
kind of singing life" in the play. It arises from the characters' "passionate will and 
desire" — and, I would add, from a rebelliousness that vibrates variously in different 
characters. Their rebellion, however diffuse or vaguely directed, achieves, at times, 
a solo exaltation and, at other times, an orchestration of laughter and grief, wild 
confessionals and singing silence. There is also wit in The Sea Gull, and Mr. Young 
rightly calls it "an elusive but wholly robust wit proceeding from within a gentle 
nature and therefore not inhuman or cruel ; pervading all ; and giving a vibrant pro- 
portion to the whole." 

From all this there finally arises a mixed type of drama that transcends academic 
categories and makes The Sea Gull, as well as the later Chekhov plays, especially modern 
in tone and in the quality of the approach to life. And Mr. Young, in his noteworthy 
preface, "Translating The Sea Gull," wisely turned to his colleague Joseph Wood 
Krutch's attempt to describe the special nature of this species of drama, Mr. Krutch, 
reviewing the Lunt production in The Nation, maintained that The Sea Gull is "not a 
mixture of comedy and tragedy" because "Neither the spirit of tragedy nor the spirit 
of comedy could include all the variety of incident and character which the play 
presents." Mr. Krutch maintained that the elements of the play "can only be included 
within some mood less downright than that of tragedy and comedy, and one of 
Chekhov's originalities was just his success in creating such a mood." Which does not 
remove the fact that in its totality, The Sea Gull is neither a mist nor a mood, but a 
clearly outlined and compelling play. And despite the overpublicized ' ^ Chekhovskoe 
nastromnie" or "Chekhovian melancholic" state of mind, it is the work of a buoyant 
intelligence and wholesome spirit, from which one could expect such a recommen- 
dation of self- respect and confidence as his telling us somewhere to rejoice that we are 
"not a drayhorse, a bacillus, a pig, an ass, a bear led by a gypsy, or a bug . . ." It is 
obvious that Chekhov was the observer and not the victim of the individual debilitation 
he recorded or of the stagnant provincial society he memorialized. Chekhov meant 
business in his work instead of being content to spin loose threads and leave his plays 
entangled in them. It was Chekhov, the master of moods, who wanted us to remember 
that "those writers we call eternal, or simply good, and who intoxicate us, have one 
common and very important characteristic : they get somewhere and they summon 
you there." 

Anton Chekhov's distinguished place in the fields of drama and short fiction — 
whether he excelled more as a playwright than as a short-story writer is as unnecessary 
to decide as it would be difficult — invites a detailed essay rather than a brief note such 
as can be given here. The son of a former slave, and a tyrannical one at that, Chekhov 
(i860- 1 904) made his way through medical school with the help of his gift for 
narration. He first made himself a tidy living and a reputation as the author of light and 
brief fiction, the analogue to which is the series of little plays, nearly or actually 



42 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

"skits," that he called his "vaudevilles." (Later, he w^rote deeply stirring stories and 
short novels that rank with the greatest in w^orld literature, and it is equally as a 
w^riter of fiction and as a playwright that Chekhov possesses stature in our century. ) 
He expressed fondness for his light pieces, all written between 1888 and 1 894, and his 
partiality has been shared by the many amateur groups that have staged his Proposal, 
The Anniversary, The Wedding, and especially the earliest of these. The Bear (Medved) 
also knovsoi as The Boor. In these playlets he also evinced his humorous way of looking 
fondly askance at humanity, his talent for comedy which he was loath to see suppressed 
in his major dramas even by Stanislavsky and the Moscow Art Theatre which first gave 
him success on the stage and a commanding position in Western theatre. Hence his 
tendency to insist that his major works be considered comedies rather than gloom- 
drenched dramas, although his opinion should receive qualified rather than literal 
acceptance. 

Coming after the depressing Ivanov, usually considered an artistic failure, and The 
Wood Demon, a discarded draft of Uncle Vanya, The Sea Gull (the Russian title Chaika 
simply means The Gull) was Chekhov's third full-length drama and his first fully 
realized one. The Sea Gull called for the kind of poetic and "inner" realistic staging 
that first began to appear after the founding of the Moscow Art Theatre in 1897. 
Indeed, even Stanislavksy, its co-founder and the master-director of Chekhovian 
theatre who staged The Sea Gull, admitted that at first he had not understood "the 
essence, the aroma, the beauty" of this piece for the writing of which there were 
(and are) neither rules nor extra-artistic justifications. 

The Moscow Art Theatre made theatrical history with its production of the play, 
became uniquely the theatre of Chekhov at the turn of the century, and adopted a sea 
gull for its symbol and trademark. And Chekhov got started on a career that made him 
one of the half-dozen master-dramatists of modernity. It was a career abbreviated by 
the untimely death of the long consumptive writer in 1904. But Uncle Vanya in 1899, 
The Three Sisters in 1 90 1 , and The Cherry Orchard in 1 904 were all noteworthy successors 
to The Sea Gull. 



NOAH 

Andre Obey (1892- ), one of the most talented practitioners of non-boulevard 

theatre in France, has been a cause more than a playwright in the United States. 
American actors, playwrights, and even a critic or two have labored with no great 
success to advance his standing with the American public. They came closest to suc- 
ceeding with his gentle but acute biblical play Noah which ran first on Broadway for 
forty-five performances in 193^, in Arthur Wilmurt's standard American version 
which I have reprinted here, and then a year later, for another forty-five performances, 
in an adaptation by Carlton Moss, with music by Jean Stor, when produced by the 
Negro Theatre unit of the Federal Theatre. Obey's play has continued to be serviceable 
ever since on the "off- Broadway" stage. Among this playwrights' other plays, Le Viol 
de Lucrece, 1931, based on Shakespeare's poem The Rape of Lucrece, had the benefit of 
an adaptation by Thornton Wilder, a musical score by Deems Taylor, and a pro- 
duction by Katharine Cornell, who inevitably played Lucrece. Even with such 
doughty support, this play, which had won acclaim a year before at the Vieux- 
Colombier in Paris, could achieve only a short run of thirty-one performances at the 
Belasco Theatre. It may be noted, too, that New York had had an opportunity to 
become familiar with the author's work ever since the fall of 192 i when the Theatre 
Guild presented The Wife with the Smile, originally La Souriante Mme. Beudet, a dazzling 
Parisian success of the spring of 1 92 i on which he had collaborated with Denys Amiel, 
a specialist in feminine and feminist drama. 

Noah was adapted for the Broadway production by Arthur Wilmurt (1906- ), 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 43 

who had studied playwriting at Yale University under George Pierce Baker, had 
taught at Yale for a while, and is now a professor of drama at the Carnegie Institute of 
Technology. He had his first play, The Guest Room, produced in New York in 1 93 i after 
a production at the Yale University Theatre staged by the distinguished university 
director Alexander Dean. Mr. Wilmurt made his translation of Noah in the same year 
for an avant-garde group at the Princess Theatre. The group disbanded, but the play 
was later picked up by one of its members, Jerome Mayer, who prevailed upon Pierre 
Fresnay, playing in Noel Coward's Conversation Piece in 1934, to fill the part of Noah 
which that great actor had previously played in Paris. The same version was staged in 
London at the New Theatre by Copeau's nephew Michel Saint-Denis with John 
Gielgud in the role of Noah and Alec Guinness in the part of ' 'The Wolf. 

Mr. Wilmurt's comments in June, 19^6, to me deserve to be placed on record: 
"On the basis of the critical reaction here. Obey made quite extensive revisions of the 
second, third, and fourth Scenes. I translated these revisions and John Gielgud 
played that version in London through the summer of 1935^. It still seems popular all 
over the Commonwealth: within the past two years I've heard of, among other 
productions, a radio broadcast from Singapore and a TV broadcast in Australia. 
The 'American version' seems more popular in colleges than anywhere. The Kraft 
Theatre did it on TV in 19^0." Mr. Wilmurt and the producers of the "American 
version" of this flagrantly uncommercial philosophical folk-piece can take reminiscent 
pleasure in their 1934 press notices. Especially encouraging were the New York World- 
Telegram plea, "Please see Noah if not for Heaven's sake, for the sake of your theatre- 
going soul" and the assurance extended by the New York American that "Some of this 
Noah has the taste of dew from Heaven and some of it the tang of Attic salt. 

Compliments of this character were particularly welcome for a work that was not 
destined — or, for that matter, not intended — for success on the Great White Way 
or on the boulevards of Paris. Obey had written the piece between 1929 and 1930 for 
a company. La Compagnie des Quinze, which he had first seen performing in Lyons — a 
company of young actors who had been working together for nine years, trying to 
realize Copeau's ideals of a retheatricalized art. They followed Copeau in turning his 
back, as Saint-Denis put it in an Introduction to the British edition of Noah, "on the 
theatre of the rationalists, of the psychologists who had made the stage into either a 
platform for discussing political, social and even medical problems, or into a laboratory 
for the study of special cases." 

Obey had views on the drama that accorded with the animating principle of the 
Compagnie des Quinze. "My theory, ' ' he wrote, "is that a play is a thing of the theatre so 
strictly — ^and yet, at the same time, so freely — invented for the stage, composed and 
developed on the stage, subjected to the stage to such an extent that the life, the 
reality and the rhythm of the drama are there before the words which express it." 
The Compagnie des Quinze could help the author to realize these principles of play- 
writing on the stage. "We were actors," says Saint-Denis, "capable of showing life 
rather than explaining it, relying more on sound and physical movement than on 
talking, used to singing and dancing, able to build up from choral work to the invention 
of simple, clearly defined characters." Neither New York nor London was able to 
provide such an acting company for Noah, whereas it was precisely what Obey re- 
quired for the complete realization of a play that is fable and parable in one, that 
represents typical humanity with broad and simple strokes of the brush, and that 
employs two choruses — a group of animals and a group of children expected to 
give, through the art of the mime, form to the meaning and rhythm to the movement 
of the action. If, as Francis Fergusson declares, Copeau "was interested in the histri- 
onic as a means of revivifying play- writing, " he succeeded in this one instance, what- 
ever the limitations of the play, through the mediacy of the young company for which 
Noah was written. 



44 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

VOLPONE 

Ben Jonson's Volpone, one of the major masterpieces of Elizabethan comedy, should 
not need any introduction to English readers. And perhaps Stefan Zweig's free version 
of Jonson's comedy of parasites should not need any either, since this Viennese author 
was not primarily a playwright. He was chiefly a novelist, biographer, and essayist of 
distinction, renowned especially for such non-fiction works as Three Masters (Balzac, 
Dickens, and Dostoevski), Joseph Fouche, and Mental Healers. But before he died in 
1942, in a suicide pact in Brazil, a refugee from his beloved Vienna where he had been 
bom to Jewish parents in i 88 i , Zweig had also written six or seven plays. And two of 
these won considerable attention. 

The earlier was the biblical poetic drama Jeremia/j, written as a protest against the 
W^orld War in 19 17 and first produced in Zurich, where Zweig had been working for 
peace in close collaboration with other European intellectuals. Zweig presented his 
hero Jeremiah as the prototype of all who have struggled tragically against the folly and 
evil of the war-makers. (The play was subsequently produced by the Theatre Guild on 
the eve of a second World War, in 1938, in a version made for the Guild by Worthing- 
ton Miner and the present writer which got greatly mangled during the last desperate 
rehearsals. ) The second play, in 1926, was Zweig's adaptation of the Ben Jonson comedy, 
a work which was followed in 1933 by the adaptation of another Jonson comedy. 
Epicene, or The Silent Woman which Zweig prepared as a libretto for an opera by Richard 
Strauss under the German title of Die schweigsame Frau. 

If the reader will compare Zweig's Volpone with the original English play, he will be 
able to draw all pertinent deductions for himself. There is no reason to draw them 
for him. There may also be no great impulse to do anything at all on the part of the 
general reader. He may well be content to simply enjoy the intrigue and satire, the 
rich variations on "the motive of chicane" Harry Levin mentions in his Random 
House edition of Jonson's Selected Works. These are to be found in both Zweig's comedy 
and the original play. 



THE LATE CHRISTOPHER BEAN 

Rene Fauchois was an old hand at manufacturing Parisian entertainments when he 
composed Prenez garde a la peinture, a play inspired by the last years of Vincent van 
Gogh that somehow caught the fancy of the English-speaking stage, so that EmIyn 
Williams adapted it for England and Sidney Howard based the New England comedy 
The Late Christopher Bean on it. Bom in 1882, Fauchois had first won some repute as the 
author of verse plays, and one of these, Beethoven, first staged at the Odeon in 1909, had 
been presented in New York in 1910. He turned to the writing of comedies after the 
failure in 191 1 of another verse drama Rivoli, a play that explained Napoleon's military 
prowess as compensation for Josephine's betrayal of him with a handsome hussar. 
One of the comedies, Le Singe qui parle, produced in Paris in 1924, was presented the 
next year in New York for a moderate run under the title of The Monkey Talks. The 
production featured Philip Merivale in the role of an aristocrat who, after falling in 
love with an equestrienne, loses his social position and joins a circus with a talking- 
monkey act. Fauchois, like his junior colleague Jacques Deval (1893 — )> whose 
Tovarich was successfully adapted by Robert Sherwood in 1936, became one of those 
busy contrivers of facile French comedy who generally won more success at home and 
abroad than more incisive playwrights such as Salacrou, Savoir, and Crommelynck. 

Fauchois, like Deval, owed his longest run in New York and an ample reception in 
the rest of the country to an adapter. Sidney Howard (i 891-1939), who transplanted 
Fauchois' action and turned The Late Christopher Bean into an authentic American 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 4^ 

comedy with some New England grit in the payload of sentiment, was an old hand at 
adapting plays. He had also won a respectable success as a playwright in his own right 
with such work as the Pulitzer Prize comedy They Knew What They Wanted in 1924 and 
Ned McCohh^s Daughter in 1926. The last-mentioned piece may have actually set the tone 
for The late Christopher Bean, which Gilbert Miller produced in 1932. Both plays have 
their main action in New England and provide contrasts between small towni and big 
city life. In both, the heroine is a sympathetic countrywoman whose simplicity is more 
than a match for the guile of city slickers. In both pieces, besides, there is a bracing 
air of wintry comedy. As refurbished by Sidney Howard, who had been servicing 
European drama satisfactorily ever since his adaptations of Charles Vildrac's sensitive 
plays 5.5. Tenacity and Michel Auclair between 1922 and 192^, Fauchois' comedy 
contained a keen sense of character, as well as some pardonable sentiment. "Pungency 
under the surface and surprise around the edges" was the friendly verdict of the 
New York Sun, and there was mainly agreement with this opinion in the nation's press. 



THE PLAY'S THE THING 

In 1925^, Ferenc Molnar, the wit and genial master-conversationalist of Budapest 
cafe society, as well as a busy playwright for all Europe, summed up his career with a 
brevity rare among autobiographers : 

"1878, I w^as bom in Budapest. [He was the son of a well-known Jewish physician.] 
''1896, I became a law student at Geneva. 
''1896, I became a journalist in Budapest. [He contributed a series of weekly articles 

to a newspaper.] 
"1897, I wrote a short story. 
''1900, I wrote a novel. [It was the celebrated story of juvenile gang warfare, The 

Paul Street Boys.] 
"1902, I became a playwright at home. [He wrote his first play, and a successful one 

too, The Lawyer, at the request of the Royal National Theatre.] 
''1914, I became a war correspondent. 
**i9i6, I became a playwright once more. 
* S 9 1 8 , my hair turned show white . 
"192^, I should like to be a law student in Geneva once more . ' ' 

Instead, he proceeded to get The Plaj^s the Thing produced in Budapest and later in 
New York, a city already well disposed toward him, which became his second home in 
1940 when Nazism came to his native country. 

He had been an expert contriver of plays ever since the writing of The Devil in 1907, 
and he convinced two continents that this facility was beyond question when in 1 9 1 o 
he contrived The Guardsman, with which the Theatre Guild and the gay Lunts romped 
to success in 1924. He had charmed audiences with the romantic sentiment and cor- 
rective, if gentle, realism of The Swan in 1920. In 1924 he had also scored a success 
with the Cinderella-fantasy of a romantic Budapest servant The Glass Slipper, which the 
Guild presented in the fall of 192^. And he had exhibited deeper insights with an 
even greater flair for theatricality when he wrote Liliom (in a famous cafe ) as early as 
1909, although it became an international success only after 192 i when the then still 
struggling Theatre Guild in its third season produced the play — to be exact, on April 20, 
192 1. The Budapest premiere had been more or less of a fiasco, and in later years 
his friendly enemies or hostile friends in Budapest liked to say that Molnar had vowed 
after the premiere never to write another play like Liliom and that this was one 
promise Molnar had kept . . . 

The Plays the Thing — the original title was The Play in the Castle — was then the ripe 
result of a great familiarity with the devices of play-craft, a familiarity as evident to 
the American playgoer as to the European since New York produced seventeen of his 



46 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

plays after the great success of The Devil there in 1908. The Vlay's the Thing ^ a play- 
about the theatre as gay and irreverent and ingenious as only Molnar could make it, 
enjoyed the services of a fellow-w^it and sophisticate, P. G. Wodehouse, who adapted 
the original play. And not inappropriately this version was tried out in Great Neck, 
Long Island, not yet then the common man's preserves that it has been since the great 
ex-urbanite migrations after World War IL A run of 244 performances on Broadway 
alone after the premiere on November 3, 1926, attested the popularity of this theatrical 
work, which recalls the gayety of play-making for its ovsnn rather than for conscience's 
sake that Budapest playwrights tried to preserve as long as it was possible to do so, if 
not indeed longer. 

There came a time after 1930 w^hen even Molnar found it difficult to sustain the 
tradition of theatrical insouciance with fresh success, though he managed to win one 
more triumph with a new play, The Good Fairy ^ in 193 i and 1932. But he remained a 
great gentleman of the world and wit to the end of his days (he died in his seventy- 
fourth year on April i , 19^2), and the fact that his buoyancy of invention could still be 
appreciated after a second World War was attested to in the United States by a success- 
ful revival of The Plaj's the Thing which opened in New York on April 28, 1948, with 
jaunty performances by Louis Calhem, Ernest Cossart, Arthur Margetson, and 
Faye Emerson. All had evidently learned a lesson from the author whose rule for 
successful theatre, he said, was "you must do some swindling." Wrote Joseph Wood 
Krutch in The Nation of May i ^, 1948 : "Its most ardent admirers never claimed for it 
importance of any possible sort, but it is just as fresh and just as funny as it was twenty- 
two years ago." And Mr. Krutch rightly gave it special praise because "it is a satire on 
itself" and because "the author — who has shown in other works that he can be senti- 
mental enough on occasion — keeps his tongue firmly planted in his cheek." The plain 
truth is that The Plaj^s the Thing is a miracle of gay and worldly-wise virtuosity and 
theatrical dexterity. 



AS YOU DESIRE ME 

Luigi Pirandello, who was bom in 1867, introduced a "Pirandellian" situation as 
early as 1904 in a novel, The Late Mattia Pascal^ and he gave full rein to his quizzical 
view of reality in a play as early as 191^ in Cap and Bells, if not indeed even earlier. 
As You Desire Me, published in Milan in 1930, is one of the later plays of Pirandello, 
and it is one of the most personalized treatments of his characteristic subject — the 
nature of identity. The play bears directly upon this theme with a comparatively 
simple story, although one that starts on an assumption that may be regarded as far- 
fetched or contrived. Actually Pirandello's plot was very similar to a case of mistaken 
identity that had been publicized in Italian newspapers a year before. The contrast 
between appearance and reality, between the "mask" and the "face," moreover had 
been insisted upon in a variety of ways in Pirandello's earlier pieces. The misunder- 
standings in As You Desire Me were plainly the result of philosophical and literary 
intentions rather than of addiction to plot-contrivance. These intentions had already 
occasioned much rueful legerdemain on his part in such plays as Cosi e (se vi pare) or 
Kight You Are — Ij^ou Think You Are, Six Characters in Search of An Author, and the power- 
ful melodrama Henry IV, ruined by Broadway under the title of The Living Mask. 

As he multiplied his plays and as his reputation grew, Pirandello's themes became 
almost monotonously familiar without the plays really being understood in the United 
States, although many writers, even a few Americans, appear to have leaned heavily 
on him in some of their work. Personality is something we self-deceivingly invent for 
ourselves, or that others invent for us. "Facts" about human reality are not actually 
facts at all, but now they look one way and now another. "Truth is the representation 
each of us makes of it," declares a character in Right You Are. What seems to be reality 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 47 

may be pretense, and what seems pretense may be reality — relative reality, of course, 
for absolute reality is beyond our penetration, if indeed it exists at all. And as Piran- 
dello once declared directly, "each of us believes himself to be one, but that is a 
false assumption : each of us is so many, so many, as many as are all the potentialities 
of being that are in us . . . " 

Pirandello could sometimes make one's head whirl with these intellectual capers 
while he cut them into comic and emotional patterns of dramatic complication. In 
As You Desire Me, however, he anchored speculation in a story elementary as well as 
subtle, pathetic as well as reflective. In addition, he irradiated this drama with 
passionate idealism through the character of his heroine, significantly called the 
"Unknowm," who, after a sordid life, would like to know herself, as well as be known 
by others, in the soul of an ideal, vanished woman. The inevitable doom of such an 
ambition in a world of sullying materialism, accommodation, and doubt could only 
intensify the play, justifying the Pirandello scholar Domenico Vittorini's reference to 
it as "a play of absolute exasperated, irrational idealism, indicting modem life with 
its ambiguity, its lust, its commercialized sensuality ..." Vittorini (to whose book 
The Drama of Luigi Pirandello^ 193^, Pirandello himself wrote a Foreword) declared 
that "in the avowed intention of the author," the play is "the story of the soul that 
has tried to live on this earth and could not" — and there is much in the piece to 
justify so pessimistic a conclusion. 

By the same token, it is less certain that the work attains "the grandeur of tragedy" 
Professor Vittorini claimed for it. Nor was it necessary to press that claim, since the 
play, which is not altogether free from sentimental theatricality (while Six Characters 
and Henry /Fare completely free), had proved quite satisfactory on less exalted levels. 
As You Desire Me is a provocative enough drama of the isolation of individuals from each 
other and the division of their souls, which they endeavor to heal with the illusions 
they cherish in a world of hypocrisies and pettiness. As a moving play about one 
person's search for a valid life in the midst of corruption. As You Desire Me — with or 
probably without all the Pirandellian ingredients that make even this "simple" piece 
anything but simple — won a larger audience than the author's other works. It had 142 
performances in New York alone, and it acquired a very much larger public when it 
was translated, how faithfully I do not know, into a motion picture for Greta Garbo. 

It may also be of interest to the reader to know that the main role, played on Broad- 
way by Judith Anderson, was originally performed in Italy by the great Pirandellian 
actress Marta Abba who has made the translation of Come tu mi vuoi used in this book. 
The emotional conviction of As You Desire Me and its freedom from a cold abstractness 
often charged against the author may be credited in part to Miss Abba. Pirandello 
undoubtedly had her in mind for the part when he created the mystifying but intensely 
human heroine around whom the grotesque action revolves. 



THE GOOD HOPE 

Herman Heijermans (i 864-1924) was the leader of a new, realistic and socially 
engaged theatre in the Netherlands at a time when the entire European theatre was 
undergoing modernization. As a journalist, novelist, short-story writer (a remarkably 
prolific one), and dramatist, this descendant of old Dutch Jewry played a major role 
in the cultural renaissance of his country between 1880 and 1920. The revival of 
Dutch literature gained momentum in the eighteen-eighties, so that the movement 
Heijermans headed with the poet Albert Verwey and the novelist Frederik van 
Eeden came to be known as the Movement of Eighty. Heijermans brought its fruits to 
the theatre of Germany, England, and America as well as to the Dutch stage. 

Heijermans won his first success on the stage under a Russian pseudonym with the 
one-act play Ahasuerus in 1893. He strengthed his position in the theatre with such 



48 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

plays as The Ghetto (i 898), a vivid picture of Jew^ish life but also a liberal's criticism of 
fanatical orthodoxy, and The Seventh Commandment (1899), an expose of middle-class 
narrowness in general. These and other products of critical realism such as The Maid 
and Eva Bonheur^ studies in souls w^arped by the lives they have led, made their author 
the outstanding Dutch playw^right. 

The dramatic piece w^ith w^hich Heijermans v^on an international reputation is 
Op Hoop van Zegen, known in English as The Good Hope, which appeared in 1901 and 
was soon translated into many European languages. Doubtless its social content, the 
plight of underprivileged fishing crews sent out in unseaworthy vessels, promoted the 
success of the play in the early years of our century. The Good Hope indeed was credited 
with having inspired long-needed reforms in Holland's fishery trade in 1909, and the 
men of the Dutch merchant marine had occasion to express their gratitude when they 
raised a fund for the support of Heijermans' widow and tw^o children when he died on 
December 3, 1924, in a less than affluent state after the bankruptcy of a theatrical 
company he had founded in Holland. But it is Heijermans' vivid and compasionate 
artistry that gave his play its durability. 

Counting on its durability as art, Eva Le Gallienne staged the play at her Civic 
Repertory Theatre in the fall of 1927, and The Good Hope was indeed one of the few 
social dramas that made a strong impression before "social significance" became a 
slogan in our theatre after the Wall Street stockmarket crash. Brooks Atkinson, in a 
foreword to the English translation, expressed the prevailing appreciative view when 
he wrote: "In the final analysis the ideals of art and human life are one; when they 
blend perfectly, may we not regard their expression in a play as noble, majestic — as 
luminously true?" And he rightly praised its excellent characterization and "its deep 
tonal values of a Dutch painting." 

Ellen Terry brought The Good Hope to America in 1906 along with Captain Brass- 
hound's Conversion in repertory, and we may speculate as to what Fabian influence had 
strengthened Heijermans' spell over that very middle-class actress whom Shaw adored 
and endeavored to instruct. But she must have been affected, too, by the intense life 
in this play. Certainly Max Beerbohm was not the man to be taken with a play simply 
because its author had social sympathies. Yet he declared as early as 1903 that it was a 
pity that other dramatists could not "through their coldly observant eyes, see life half 
so clearly and steadily as it is seen through the somewhat flashing eyes of Heijermans. "* 

Joseph Wood Krutch, who would not have allowed social sentiment to stand in the 
way of his critical judgment, was also sufficiently stirred to say in his review of the 
1927 Le Gallienne production that The Good Hope "will not take its place quietly upon 
the shelf. ' ' (If it nevertheless did soon after, the reason was probably that the conflicts 
that began to shake the United States and Europe within a few years favored more 
turbulent treatments of capital and labor.) As A. J. Bamow pointed out in a 192^ issue 
of Theatre Arts Monthly, "The playgoer of today sees in the shipowner not the embodi- 
ment of a wicked system, but a wicked man as there are wicked men among his victims. 
And it is this triumph of the author's creation of a living character over the symbol that 
he intended his creature to be which lifts this play from the mass of timely propaganda 
into the realms of timeless art. ' ' 



THE WORLD WE LIVE IN 

Karel Capek** (i 890-1938) and his artist-brother Josef (i 887-1945^) were the most 
distinguished playwrights of the Czechoslovakian republic, which had been established 
by the Versailles Peace Treaty under the presidency of Thomas Masaryk, their friend. 
But the distinction of being the new nation's leading writers would not have in itself 

* See Seymour Flaxman's Herman Heijermans and His Dramas, published in The Hague in i 95^4. 
** Capek should be pronounced as through the C were Ch. 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 49 

impressed other countries, especially ours. The Capek brothers won an international 
reputation in consequence of the international character of their concern with broad 
issues such as the implications of longevity in The Makropoulos Secret and of the growing 
mechanization of the Western World in R.U.R. The last-mentioned work, published 
in 1 92 I , was the chef d' oeuvre of Karel Capek and in the same year he collaborated with 
his brother on Ze zivota hmyzu, The Insect Comedy or The Life of the Insects^ in which the 
whole life of man was reviewed in allegorical scenes. Here, too, the state of the 
modem world — a world to which the authors imputed much folly and rapacity — was 
the frame of reference. And here, as in R.U.R., the dim outlook was transcended by a 
last-minute affirmativeness. 

Unlike R. U.R.^ this piece, which was first known in New York under the title of the 
Broadway adaptation The World We Live In, is not a compact drama. It may be described 
as a philosophical revue in the expressionist manner much in vogue in Central Europe 
immediately after World War I. It was a decidedly more expressionist and symbolic 
work than R.U.R. and impressed us in the early twenties as the more venturesome 
presentation. It required a European background or a distinctly fastidious taste in a 
critic to protest that the symbolism was too transparent. The authors indeed put much 
trust in the parallels to the human situation suggested to them by the French entomo- 
logist Fabre's La Vie des Insectes and Souvenirs Entomologiques. They dutifully explained 
the parallel with unintentionally comic results in a preface written in less than im- 
peccable English. As given in the Samuel French acting edition, their comment over- 
explains a work that surely needs no explication. 

Owen Davis, a veteran of our "pre-modem" stage with many a facile melodrama, 
signalized his reformation by doing a stint of adaptation on "the insect comedy" for 
the producer of the Capek fantasy, William Brady, who was duly complimented for his 
"courage in producing a play so difficult and unusual" by none other than David 
Belasco. For a time it seemed that all the bastions of our theatrical conservatism were 
falling. The reviewer for the New York Sun declared that the production had given him 
the "greatest thrill we ever had" and a New York Times critic declared, "No theatre- 
goer who wants to see the bold, brave things which the young folks (sic) are up to 
can afford to miss this play," while the New York Telegram solemnly told its readers 
that "no household should be content until its members have seen how their daily life 
is patterned after insects." There was indeed more buzzing about this production than 
the most optimistic progressives could have anticipated when they first gazed at 
theatrical horizons in Washington Square Park half a dozen years before. 



THE DYBBUK 

The Dyhbuk is the play with which it is most usual to identify Jewish drama in the 
English-speaking theatre, as well as in the European theatres. One might question the 
justification of this all-too-exclusive identification. Drama in the Yiddish and Hebrew 
languages has been extensive since 1900 and has engaged writers of considerable 
distinction such as David Pinski, Sholem Asch, Isaac Loeb Peretz, the great humorist 
Sholom Aleichem, Peretz Hirschbein, and H. Leivick, whose folk-drama The Golem 
is known on two continents. However, only Pinski 's moralistic drama of greed The 
Treasure, first produced in German, by Max Reinhardt in 1910 and later in English by 
the Theatre Guild, rivals The Dyhbuk — and this without actually possessing half the 
merit of The Dyhbuk. Yet its author S. Ansky — we derive the name from Sh. An-sky, 
the pen-name of Solomon Z. Rapaport (186 3- 1920) — would have been little known 
but for this play. It was the outgrowth of his main occupation, for he was primarily a 
student of Russian and Jewish folklore rather than a dramatist. 

He wrote the play in 19 14 and succeeded in interesting Stanislavsky. The latter 
considered it for production by the Moscow Art Theatre and suggested the introduction 



^o THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

of a new character, the mystic Messenger, into the work. However, the play w^as not 
staged until December 9, 1920 when the Vilna Troupe, a Jewish acting company 
founded in Vilna, Poland, during World War I, produced it as a memorial to the author, 
who had died a month before. An instant sensation, this play, which combined realism 
of environment and fantasy of plot, came to be regarded not merely as a folk-drama, 
but as universal love-tragedy. 

The folk-character of this work has been ably explicated by Mr. Samuel J. Citron in 
A History of Modern Drama, edited by Barrett H. Clark and George Freedley : "Even the 
death of Honon [Channon in our text] cannot extinguish that love, and his spirit 
enters the body of Leah as a 'dybbuk,' an additional soul . . . The Great Anathema 
pronounced upon the dybbuk-Honon finally forces him to leave the maiden. But even 
anathemas cannot overcome the preordained love of the pair. Leah dies and her soul is 
fused with the soul of Honon in eternal love." 

The romanticism of the work is apparent. The dark splendor of this macabre play 
attracted many imaginative directors, such as the talented Stanislavsky disciple Eugene 
Vakhtangov whose ideal of combining reality of emotion with theatrical stylization 
was realized in the text of The Dybbuk. In addition to all its other values, the play had 
the value of exemplifying a rewarding synthesis of realistic and theatrical art. It was a 
synthesis especially possible in the context of myth and tradition. 



FROM MORN TO MIDNIGHT 

Georg Kaiser was one of the most prominent as well as controversial figures of the 
European theatre in the decade between 19 14 and 1924. He was the most conse- 
quential member of the so-called expressionist movement which had its center in 
Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. Bom in 1878 to a well-to-do merchant in 
Magdeburg, Germany, he first turned to a business career which carried him as far as 
Buenos Aires. He returned to Germany and became a writer only after he had found 
the climate uncongenial, but he was still drawn to business enterprise in a curious 
fashion. His most dramatic experience indeed stemmed from this inclination when he 
was tried for embezzlement of funds. His plea — an unsuccessful one, I understand — 
was, nevertheless, that of a writer rather than of a businessman, since he declared that 
he was too exceptional a person to be expected to abide by the civil code. (Ironically, 
however, it was as a professional writer, and not as a businessman that he finally found a 
respectable place in society.) And, when he defended himself in court, he could have 
even used Oscar Wilde's claim that nature imitates art. Years before his differences 
with the law, Kaiser had actually made a case of embezzlement the springboard of 
one of his best-known plays. From Morn to Midnight, which was written in 191 6. 

Kaiser started to write as early as 190^, but his first published play, a satirical 
version of the story of Judith under the title of The Jewish Widow (Diejiidische Witwe) , 
appeared in 1 9 1 1 . Shortly thereafter he became a key figure of the German theatrical 
world; so much so, indeed, that twenty-six of his plays were staged in Central 
Europe between 19 14 and 1924. Subsequently, his importance waned with that of 
expressionism, but he continued to turn out plays long after 1924. As late as 1933, he 
wrote a fable about wealth and poverty called Silhersee (Silver Lake), worth noting if 
only because Kurt Weill wrote the music for it; earlier. Kaiser had furnished two 
librettos for Weill, in 1924 and 1926 respectively, Der Protagonist and Der Zar 
Idsst sich photo graphier en. Kaiser was an irrepressible worker and continued to write in 
Switzerland, in exile from Nazi Germany, throughout the war years, right up to his 
death in 1945^. One of his latter-day works was a novel Villa Aurea which was translated 
into English as A Villa in Sicily. He also continued to write plays. There must have 
been more than a few of these, since the present writer recalls receiving several from 
Kaiser. One, Klawitter, was an ironic account of subterfuges and deceptions in Nazi 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS ^i 

Germany; another, The Soldier Tanaka, was a severe indictment of the Japanese 
mihtary machine and concerned the plight of a common soldier. 

Kaiser's most impressive work came in the heyday of expressionism during the 
Central European crisis from 19 14 to about 1924. The Burghers of Calais, with its 
idealistic theme of self-sacrifice, won considerable respect in 19 17. Particularly im- 
pressive was Kaiser's trilogy about the tensions and fears of the Machine Age which 
also exercised the imagination of other expressionists such as Karel Capek, in R.U.R., 
and Ernst Toller, in Die Maschinensturmer or The Machine Wreckers. The trilogy consisted 
of The Coral (191 7), Gas I (191 8), and Gas 11 (1920). The high point of the fable comes 
in Gas I with the explosion of an idealistic capitalist's super-plant which manufactures 
a new gas for servicing technical progress, a disaster that is followed in Gas II with 
pictures of mass-destruction and chaos. Kaiser himself thought he was writing plays 
of ideas or Denkspiele (literally, thought-plays), and he declared, in fact, that "to write a 
drama is to follow a thought to its conclusion." But the "ideas" were not incor- 
porated in psychologically revealed, truly dimensioned characters, so that Kaiser's 
work, like that of his expressionist colleagues, was often as barren as it was bizarre. 
A "thought-play" by Kaiser was certainly abstract by comparison with character- 
rooted "plays of ideas" written by Ibsen and Shaw. 

Kaiser's epic trilogy did not receive any particular attention from us. Gas I had its 
premiere in English on November 24, 1923 at Birmingham, England, when the 
Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company presented the work with Cedric Hardwicke 
playing the idealistic capitalist who tries to forestall disaster by starting a back-to-the- 
land movement among his workers. Another striking production of Gas was given in 
Amsterdam in 1928. Our own theatrical world was more favorably inclined toward 
Kaiser's earlier written From Morn to Midnight, a drama of disillusionment consequent 
to a little man's search for happiness in a world conspicuously hollow and corrupt. It 
proved to be one of the early Theatre Guild's most experimental offerings, received 
high praise, and had, after four special performances, a run of fifty- two performances, 
first at the Garrick and then at the larger Frazee Theatre. 

Some of the credit for the Guild's text, reprinted here, must go to the English 
adapter, Ashley Dukes, a contributing critic to Theatre Arts magazine in the twenties 
and a leader of a little art theatre movement in London, as well as the author of an 
imaginative drama. The Man With a Load of Mischief. Considerable credit for the im- 
pression made by the work also belonged to the imaginative settings by the Guild's 
distinguished scene designer, Lee Simonson, who picked the seven swift scenes of the 
play out of a surrounding and haunting darkness. And the production also owed much 
to the stage direction by Frank Reicher, a son of the famous German actor who 
directed the Jewish Art Theatre and had staged the first production of Hauptmann's 
The Weavers in English. What was, perhaps, most stirring in the production, wrote 
Walter Prichard Eaton in 1929 in The Theatre Guild: The First Ten Years, "was the 
driving pace at which Frank Reicher sent it along, like scenes shaping, dissolving, in a 
tortured mind." 

Von Morgens bis Mitternachts or From Morn to Midnight, which had its premiere in 
Berlin in 19 19 under Max Reinhardt's direction at the Deutsches Theater, was first 
produced in New York by the Theatre Guild on May 21, 1922, at the end of the 
season that brought playgoers O'Neill's expressionist drama The Hairy Ape. The play 
has been favored by experimental groups ever since for its imaginative technique, 
although it could also arouse violent dislike, as when in reviewing an off- Broadway 
production Brooks Atkinson denounced the play in The New York Times in December 
1 948 as ' 'gibberish out of a period of romantic despair that fortunately is now finished. 
One may well wonder whether the play is gibberish and whether the period of ro- 
mantic or any other kind of despair is actually finished, although the faults of Kaiser's 
dramatic nightmare are transparent enough in the text and can be exaggerated in 
inexpert stage productions. The style, which alternates between passionate speeches 



^2 THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS 

and staccato phrases like telegrams, and the use of depersonalized, mechanical charac- 
ters are intended to convey the disorder of contemporary society and the dis- 
orientation of the individual. We may balance against the detractions the play invites, 
the views of another distinguished man, the adapter, w^ho maintained in his intro- 
duction to the published play that a need was felt for ' 'an art which consists in a series 
of graphic gestures, like a vigorous clenching of the smooth palm of actuality." Ashley 
Dukes, who may have overlooked Strindberg's late plays and minimized their in- 
fluence, held that Kaiser had brought "a new method" into the theatre, "To the most 
unfriendly gaze," he added, "Georg Kaiser will appear to be a link between the three- 
dimensional stage and the screen, and a portent therefore not to be despised. But 
others who look deeper will read in the movement of his nameless hurrying throng of 
characters the poet's reflection of a universal gesture, and in their faces his image 
of a common unrest." 



THE PASSION FLOWER 

The Passion Flower was first produced in Spanish under the title of La Malquerida 
in Madrid in 1 9 1 3 . The role of Raimunda was filled by the celebrated Maria Guerrero, 
who also played this part in a Spanish production given in New York in May 1926. 

Jacinto Benavente y Martinez was bom in Madrid on August 12, 1866, the son of a 
famous pediatrician. He turned to acting instead of following the legal profession he 
was expected to pursue. He became a prolific writer after 1892 and was soon re- 
cognized as a master of the craft of playwriting. The first decade of the twentieth- 
century theatre in Spain used to be called "the Benavente period" because he was its 
dominant figure, and he was without doubt the leading Spanish playwright since 
Calderon of the seventeenth century. Until the poet Federico Garcia Lorca turned 
to playwriting after 1930, Benavente was also modem Spain's most talented dramatist. 
Like the playwrights of the Spanish classic age, he wrote a vast number of pieces of all 
kinds (including bread-and-butter melodramas and vaudevilles), and he also translated 
and adapted foreign plays. An active man of the theatre, he became the director the 
Spanish National Theatre, the Teatro Espafiol, in 1920 and also developed an "Art 
Theatre" and a children's theatre. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923. 

In one respect, Benavente reflected his upbringing in the home of a distinguished 
physician. He responded with sympathy to the scientific and liberal spirit that 
had gained ascendancy in European countries more industrialized than his own. 
He brought the modernity of Ibsen and Shaw into the Spanish theatre with many of 
his social dramas, so that he came to be called the "Bernard Shaw of Spain." He 
was also interested in the new psychology of the century, Freudianism ; and a product 
of that interest, in combination with vivid observation of the Spanish countryside, was 
La Malquerida or The Passion Flower. It is to be noted, however, that this play, like his 
favorite drama of jealousy Senora Ama (1908), was a less characteristic product of his 
career than many other pieces, such as The Field of Ermine (1916), a social drama based 
on the conflict between aristocratic family-pride and human love, and The Bonds of 
Interest (1907), an amalgam of satire and tenderness notably theatrical. (It was a 
comedy highly attractive to advanced theatre groups even as late as 1919, when the 
Theatre Guild made this play its first presentation.) The Passion Flower, however, was 
the most powerful example of that fusion of Spanish genre painting with the modern 
naturalistic and psychological spirit that was necessary before the twentieth-century 
Spanish theatre could achieve more than sentimental appeal abroad or more than local 
importance. 



THE PLAYS AND THE PLAYWRIGHTS ^3 

REDEMPTION 

Lev or Leo Tolstoy (1828- 19 10) is too well known a figure to be introduced here. 
He was first and foremost a novelist. Nevertheless, he also proved himself a powerful 
writer for the theatre, for which he wrote, in addition to some short pieces such 
as the little pro-temperance comedy The First Distiller (1887), the overpowering 
peasant tragedy The Power of Darkness (1889). This late product of his genius was 
followed by the incisive comedy The Fruits of Enlightenment (1891), a picture of the 
deterioration of Russia's landed gentry that anticipated Chekhov's treatment of the 
same theme in The Cherry Orchard by more than a decade. For a long period, Tolstoy 
completed no other play. In 1 892, he even declared that he would have written more 
plays ' 'with great pleasure, ' ' that he felt ' 'a special need to express myself in that way ; 
but I felt the Censor would not pass my plays ..." But in 1900 he wrote Zhivoi trup 
or The Living Corpse^ which Arthur Hopkins produced under the title of Redemption. 
This work has also been translated as The Live Corpse and The Man Who Was Dead. It was 
his last play except for the remarkable antobiographical drama of idealism and its ail-too 
human contradictions. The Light That Shines in Darkness^ of which the last act exists only 
in outline. 

In writing Redemption Tolstoy was motivated by the fact that the laws of Czarist 
Russia prohibited divorce. The play was based on a real case supplied to Tolstoy by a 
friend, a judge and lecturer on criminal law at Moscow University. The subject of the 
case had actually been convicted and imprisoned. He had returned to Moscow and 
given up drinking, the cause of his marital misfortunes, when he learned that the great 
author was writing about him. He visited Tolstoy, who learned facts about him that the 
law-case did not contain. But when Tolstoy reworked the first draft of the play on the 
basis of his acquaintance with the man, he nevertheless invented for Redemption a new 
tragic ending. Tolstoy was first concerned with the legal problem, but soon became 
concerned, as usual, with an individual human being. In the final draft, the character- 
ization and the action of the play are placed on a higher level of interest, are permeated 
with Tolstoyan compassion, and culminate in a demonstration of the Christian gospel 
of self-sacrifice for the sake of others. Partly in consequence of John Barrymore's 
superb playing of Fedya, the Broadway production of the play duplicated the success 
it had had in the theatres of Western Europe, which had earlier used Tolstoy's The 
Power of Darkness as an opening barrage in the then progressive struggle for naturalism. 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX's 

Tiger at the Gates 

(La Guerre de Troie N'Aura Pas Lieu) 
In the translation by Christopher Fry 



The Robert L. Joseph production first presented by The Playwrights' Company, in 
association with Henry M. Margolis, on October 3, 19^^, at the Plymouth Theatre, 

New York, with the following cast* : 

ANDROMACHE Barbara Jefford polyxene Ellen Christopher 

CASSANDRA Leuecn MacGrath Helen Diane Cilento 

LAUNDRESS Judith Braun messenger Ernest Graves 

HECTOR Michael Redgrave troilus Peter Kerr 

PARIS Leo Ciceri abneos Howard Caine 

FIRST OLD man Howard Caine busiris Wyndham Goldie 

second OLD MAN Jack Bittner ajax Felix Munso 

PRIAM Morris Carnovsky ulysses Walter Fitzgerald 

DEMOKOS John Laurie a topman Nehemiah Persoff 

HECUBA Catherine Lacey olpides Jack Bittner 

mathematician Milton Selzer senator Tom McDermott 

LADY IN waiting Jacqueline Brookes sailor Louis Criss 

* Characters omitted in this production — peace, iris 

Directed by Harold Clurman 

Settings and costumes designed by Loudon Sainthill 

(New York production supervising designer: Paul Morrison) 

Incidental music by Lennox Berkeley 

Stage Manager : Louis Criss 

The action takes place in and around the Palace of Troy 
just prior to the outbreak of the Trojan War. 



I 



© i9^^» by Christopher Fry 
Reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press 

CAUTION : No performance or reading of this play may be given unless a license has been obtained in 
advance from the author's American representative, Mrs. Leah Salisbury, 234 West 44th Street, New 
York 36, N.Y., and no copy of the play or any part thereof may be reproduced for any purpose whatsoever 
by any printing or duplicating or photographic or other method without written permission obtained in 

advance from Oxford University Press. 



^6 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 
ACT ONE 



ANDROMACHE. There's not going to be 
a Trojan War, Cassandra! 

CASSANDRA. I shall take that bet, Andro- 
mache. 

ANDROMACHE. The Greeks are quite 
right to protest. We are going to receive 
their ambassador very civilly. We shall 
w^rap up his little Helen and give her back 
to him. 

CASSANDRA. We shall receive him 
atrociously. We shall refuse to give Helen 
back. And there will be a Trojan War. 

ANDROMACHE. Ycs, if Hector w^ere 
not here. But he is here, Cassandra, he is 
home again. You can hear the trumpets. 
At this moment he is marching into the 
city, victorious. And Hector is certainly 
going to have something to say. When he 
left, three months ago, he promised me 
this war w^ould be the last. 

CASSANDRA. It is the last. The next is 
still ahead of him. 

ANDROMACHE. Docsn't it cvcr tire you 
to see and prophesy only disasters? 

CASSANDRA. I scc nothing, I prophesy 
nothing. All 1 ever do is to take account 
oFtwo great stupidities : the stupidity of 
men, and the wild stupidity of the 
elements. 

ANDROMACHE. Why should there be a 
war? Paris and Helen don't care for each 
other any longer. 

CASSANDRA. Do you think it will 
matter if Paris and Helen don't care for 
each other any longer? Has destiny ever 
been interested in whether things were 
still true ot not? 

ANDROMACHE. I don't know what 
destiny is. 

CASSANDRA. I'll tell you. It is simply 
the relentless logic of each day we live. 

ANDROMACHE. I don't Understand ab- 
stractions. 

CASSANDRA. Never mind. We can try 
a metaphor. Imagine a tiger. You can 
understand that? It's a nice, easy meta- 
phor. A sleeping tiger. 

ANDROMACHE. Let it slccp. 

CASSANDRA. There's nothing I should 
like better. But certain cocksure state- 
ments have been prodding him out of his 



sleep. For some considerable time Troy 
has been full of them. 

ANDROMACHE. Full of what? 

CASSANDRA. Of cocksure statements, a 
confident belief that the world, and the 
supervision of the world, is the province 
of mankind in general, and Trojan men 
and women in particular. 

ANDROMACHE. I don't follow you. 

CASSANDRA. Hector at this very mo- 
ment is marching into Troy? 

ANDROMACHE. Ycs. Hcctor at this very 
moment has come home to his wife. 

CASSANDRA. And Hector's wife is going 
to have a child? 

ANDROMACHE. Yes ; I am going to 
have a child. 

CASSANDRA. Don't you call these state- 
ments a little overconfident? 

ANDROMACHE. Don't frighten me, 
Cassandra. 

(^A Young Laundress goes past with an armjul 
of linen.) 

LAUNDRESS. What a beautiful day, 
miss ! 

CASSANDRA. Does it seem so, indeed? 

LAUNDRESS. It's the most beautiful 
spring day Troy has seen this year. (Exit) 

CASSANDRA. Even the laundrymaid is 
confident ! 

ANDROMACHE. And SO she should be, 
Cassandra. How can you talk of a war on 
a day like this? Happiness is falling on us 
out of the sky. 

CASSANDRA. Like a blanket of snow. 

ANDROMACHE. And beauty, as well. 
Look at the sunshine. It is finding more 
mother-of-pearl on the rooftops of Troy 
than was ever dragged up from the bed 
of the sea. And do you hear the sound 
coming up from the fishermen's houses, 
and ihe movement of the trees, like the 
murmuring of sea shells? If ever there 
were a chance to see men finding a way 
to live in peace, it is today. To live in 
peace, in humility. And to be immortal. 

CASSANDRA. Yes, I am sure those 
cripples who have been carried out to lie 
in their doorways feel how immortal 
they are. 

ANDROMACHE, And to be good, Do you 
see that horseman, in the advance-guard. 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



57 



leaning from his saddle to stroke a cat on 
the battlements ? Perhaps this is also going 
to be the first day of true fellowship be- 
tween men and the animals. 

CASSANDRA. You talk too much. 
Destiny, the tiger, is getting restive, 
Andromache ! 

ANDROMACHE. Rcstivc, maybe, in 
young girls looking for husbands ; but not 
otherwise. 

CASSANDRA. You are wrong. Hector 
has come home in triumph to the wife 
he adores. The tiger begins to rouse, and 
opens one eye. The incurables lie out on 
their benches in the sun and feel immor- 
tal. The tiger stretches himself. Today is 
the chance for peace to enthrone herself 
over all the world. The tiger licks his 
lips. And Andromache is going to have a 
son! And the horsemen have started 
leaning from their saddles to stroke tom- 
cats on the battlements ! The tiger starts 
to prowl. 

ANDROMACHE. Be quiet ! 

CASSANDRA. He climbs noiselessly up 
the palace steps. He pushes open the 
doors with his snout. And here he is, here 
he is! 
(Hectares voice: Andromache!) 

ANDROMACHE. You are lying! It is 
Hector ! 

CASSANDRA. Whoever said it was not? 
(Enter Hector.) 

ANDROMACHE. Hector ! 

HECTOR. Andromache ! 
(They embrace.) 

And good morning to you, too, Cassandra. 
Ask Paris to come to me, if you will. As 
soon as he can. 
(Cassandra lingers.) 
Have you something to tell me? 

ANDROMACHE. Don't listen to her! 
Some catastrophe or other! 

HECTOR. Tell me. 

CASSANDRA. YouT wife is going to have 
a child. (Exit Cassandra) 
(Hector takes Andromache in his arms, leads 
her to a stone bench, and sits beside her. A 
short pause.) 

HECTOR. Will it be a son or a 
daughter ? 

ANDROMACHE. Which did you want 
to create when you called it into life? 



HECTOR. A thousand boys. A thousand 
girls . 

ANDROMACHE. Why? Because it would 
give you a thousand women to hold in 
your arms? You are going to be dis- 
appointed. It will be a son, one single 
son. 

HECTOR. That may very well be. 
Usually more boys are born than girls at 
the end of a war. 

ANDROMACHE. And bcfoTc a war? 
Which, before a war? 

HECTOR. Forget wars, Andromache, 
even this war. It's over. It lost you a 
father and a brother, but it gave you 
back a husband. 

ANDROMACHE. It has been too kind. 
It may think better of it presently. 

HECTOR. Don't wory. We won't give 
it the chance. Directly I leave you 1 shall 
go into the square, and formally close the 
Gates of War. They will never open 
again. 

ANDROMACHE. Close them, then. But 
they will open again. 

HECTOR. You can even tell me the day, 
perhaps ? 

ANDROMACHE. I Can even tell you the 
day: the day when the cornfields are 
heavy and golden, when the vines are 
stooping, ready for harvest, and every 
house is sheltering a contented couple. 

HECTOR. And peace, no doubt, at its 
very height? 

ANDROMACHE. Yes. And my son is 
strong and glowing with life. (Hector 
embraces her) 

HECTOR. Perhaps your son will be a 
coward. That's one possible safeguard. 

ANDROMACHE. He won't be a coward. 
But perhaps I shall have cut off the index 
finger of his right hand. 

HECTOR. If every mother cut off her 
son's right-hand index finger, the armies 
of the world would fight without index 
fingers. And if they cut off their sons' 
right legs, the armies would be one- 
legged. And if they put out their eyes, 
the armies would be blind, but there 
would still be armies : blind armies 
groping to find the fatal place in the 
enemy's groin, or to get at his throat. 

ANDROMACHE. I would rather kill him. 



5^ 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



HECTOR. There's a truly maternal 
solution to war! 

ANDROMACHE. Don't laugh. I can still 
kill him before he is born. 

HECTOR. Don't you want to see him 
at all, not even for a moment? After that, 
you would think again. Do you mean 
never to see your son? 

ANDROMACHE. It is youT son that inter- 
ests me. Hector, it's because he is yours, 
because he is you, that I'm so afraid. You 
don't know how like you he is. Even in 
this no-man's-land where he is waiting, 
he already has everything, all those 
qualities you brought to this life we live 
together. He has your tenderness, your 
silences. If you love war, he will love it. 
Do you love war? 

HECTOR. Why ask such a question? 

ANDROMACHE. Admit, somctimcs you 
love it. 

HECTOR. If a man can love what takes 
away hope, and happiness, and all those 
nearest to his heart. 

ANDROMACHE. And you know it can 
be so. Men do love it. 

HECTOR. If they let themselves be 
fooled by that little burst of divinity the 
gods give them at the moment of attack. 

ANDROMACHE. Ah, there, you see! At 
the moment of attack you feel like a god. 

HECTOR. More often not as much as a 
man. But sometimes, on certain morn- 
ings, you get up from the ground feeling 
lighter, astonished, altered. Your whole 
body, and the armour on your back, have 
a different weight, they seem to be made 
of a different metal. You are invulnerable. 
A tenderness comes over you, submerging 
you, a kind of tenderness of battle : you 
are tender because you are pitiless ; what, 
in fact, the tenderness of the gods must 
be. You advance towards the enemy 
slowly, almost absent-mindedly, but 
lovingly. And you try not to crush a 
beetle crossing your path. You brush off 
the mosquito without hurting it. You 
never at any time had more respect for 
the life you meet on your way. 

ANDROMACHE. And then the enemy 
comes ? 

HECTOR. Then the enemy comes, 
frothing at the mouth. You pity him ; you 
can see him there, behind the swollen 



veins and the whites of his eyes, the 
helpless, willing little man of business, 
the well-meaning husband and son-in-law 
who likes to grow his owm vegetables. 
You feel a sort of love for him. You love 
the wart on his cheeck and the cast in his 
eye. You love him. But he comes on; he 
is insistent. Then you kill him. 

ANDROMACHE. And you bend over the 
wretched corpse as though you are a god ; 
but you are not a god; you can't give 
back his life again. 

HECTOR. You don't wait to bend over 
him. There are too many more waiting 
for you, frothing at the mouth and 
howling hate. Too many more unassum- 
ing, law-abiding family men. 

ANDROMACHE. Then you kill them. 

HECTOR. You kill them. Such is war. 

ANDROMACHE. All of them : you kill 
them all ? 

HECTOR. This time we killed them all. 
Quite deliberately. They belonged to an 
incorrigibly warlike race, the reason why 
wars go on and multiply in Asia. Only one 
of them escaped. 

ANDROMACHE. In a thousand years 
time, there the warlike race will be again, 
descended from that one man. His escape 
made all that slaughter futile after all . My 
son is going to love war, just as you do. 

HECTOR. I think, now that I've lost my 
love for it, I hate it. 

ANDROMACHE. How do you come to 
hate what you once worshipped? 

HECTOR. You know what it's like 
when you find out a friend is a liar? 
Whatever he says, after that, sounds false, 
however true it may be. And strangely 
enough, war used to promise me many 
kinds of virtue: goodness, generosity, 
and a contempt for anything base and 
mean. I felt I owed it all my strength and 
zest for life, even my private happiness, 
you, Andromache. And until this last 
compaign there was no enemy I haven't 
loved. 

ANDROMACHE. Very soon you will say 
you only kill what you love. 

HECTOR. It's hard to explain how all 
the sounds of war combined to make me 
think it was something noble. The gal- 
loping of horse in the night, the clatter 
of bowls and dishes where the cooks were 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



59 



moving in and out of the firelight, the 
brush of silk and metal against your tent 
as the night-patrol went past, and the 
cry of the falcon wheeling high above the 
sleeping army and their unsleeping cap- 
tain : it all seemed then so right, marvel- 
lously right. 

ANDROMACHE. But not this time: this 
time war had no music for you? 

HECTOR. Why was that? Because 1 am 
older? Or was it just the kind of weariness 
with your job which, for instance, a 
carpenter will be suddenly seized by, 
with a table half finished, as I was seized 
one morning, over an adversary of my 
owTi age, about to put an end to him? 
Up to that time, a man 1 was going to kill 
had alw^ays seemed my direct opposite. 
This time I was kneeling on a mirror, the 
death I was going to give was a kind of 
suicide. 1 don't know what the carpenter 
does at such a time, whether he throws 
away his hammer and plane, or goes on 
with it. I went on with it. But after that 
nothing remained of the perfect trumpet 
note of war. The spear as it slid against 
my shield rang suddenly false ; so did the 
shcfck of the killed against the ground, 
and, some hours later, the palace crum- 
bling into ruin. And, moreover, war 
knew that I understood, and gave up any 
pretence of shame. The cries of the dying 
sounded false. I had come to that. 

ANDROMACHE. But it all Still sounded 
right for the rest of them . 

HECTOR. The rest of them heard it as 
I did. The army I brought back hates war. 

ANDROMACHE. An army with poor 
hearing. 

HECTOR. No. When we first came in 
sight of Troy, an hour ago, you can't 
imagine how everything in that moment 
sounded true for them. There wasn't a 
regiment which didn't halt, racked to the 
heart by this sense of returning music. 
So much so, we were afraid to march 
boldly in through the gates : we broke up 
into groups outside the walls. It feels like 
the only job worthy of a good army, 
laying peaceful siege to the open cities of 
your own country. 

ANDROMACHE. You haven't under- 
stood, this is where things are falser than 
anywhere. War is here, in Troy, Hector. 



That is what welcomed you at the gates. 

HECTOR. What do you mean? 

ANDROMACHE. You haven't heard that 
Paris has carried off Helen ? 

HECTOR. They told me so. What else? 

ANDROMACHE. Did you know that the 
Greeks are demanding her back? And 
their ambassador arrives today? And if we 
don't give her up, it means war. 

HECTOR. Why shouldn't we give her 
up? I shall give her back to them myself. 

ANDROMACHE. Paris will never agree 
to it. 

HECTOR. Paris will agree, and very 
soon. Cassandra is bringing him to me. 

ANDROMACHE. But Paris can't agree. 
His honour, as you all call it, won't let 
him. Nor his love either, he may tell you. 

HECTOR. Well, we shall see. Run and 
ask Priam if he w^ill let me speak to him 
at once. And set your heart at rest. All 
the Trojans who have been fighting, or 
who can fight, are against a war. 

ANDROMACHE. There are still the 
others, remember. (As Andromache goes 
. . . Cassandra enters with ParisJ 

CASSANDRA. Here is Paris. 

HECTOR. Congratulations, Paris. I hear 
you have been very well occupied while 
we were away. 

PARIS. Not badly. Thank you. 

HECTOR. What is this story they tell 
me about Helen? 

PARIS. Helen is a very charming per- 
son. Isn't she, Cassandra? 

CASSANDRA. Fairly charming. 

PARIS. Why these reservations today? 
It was only yesterday you said you thought 
she was extremely pretty. 

CASSANDRA. She is extremely pretty, 
and fairly charming. 

PARIS. Hasn't she the ways of a young, 
gentle gazelle? 

CASSANDRA. No. 

PARIS. But you were the one who first 
said she was like a gazelle. 

CASSANDRA. I made a mistake. Since 
then I have seen a gazelle again. 

HECTOR. To hell with gazelles ! 
Doesn't she look any more like a woman 
^than that? 

PARIS. She isn't the type of woman we 
know here, obviously. 



6o 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



CASSANDRA. What is the type of 
woman we know here? 

PARIS. Your type, my dear sister. The 
fearfully unremote sort of woman. 

CASSANDRA. When your Greek makes 
love she is a long way off, 1 suppose ? 

PARIS. You know perfectly well what 
I'm trying to say. I have had enough of 
Asiatic women. They hold you in their 
arms as though they were glued there, 
their kisses are like battering-rams, their 
words chew right into you. The more 
they undress the more elaborate they 
seem, until when they're naked they are 
more overdressed than ever. And they 
paint their faces to look as though they 
mean to imprint themselves on you. And 
they do imprint themselves on you. In 
short, you are definitely with them. But 
Helen is far away from me, even held in 
my arms. 

HECTOR. Very interesting ! But, one 
wonders, is it really worth a war, to 
allow Paris to make love at a distance? 

CASSANDRA. With distance. He loves 
women to be distant but right under his 



nose. 



PARIS. To have Helen with you not 
with you is worth anything in the world. 

HECTOR. How did you fetch her away ? 
Willingly, or did you compel her? 

PARIS. Listen, Hector! You know 
women as well as I do. They are only 
willing when you compel them, but after 
that they're as enthusiastic as you are. 

HECTOR. On horseback, in the usual 
style of seducers, leaving a heap of horse 
manure under the windows. 

PARIS. Is this a court of enquiry? 

HECTOR. Yes, it is. Try for once to 
answer precisely and accurately. Have 
you insulted her husband's house, or the 
Greek earth? 

PARIS. The Greek water, a little. She 
was bathing. 

CASSANDRA. She is born of the foam, 
is she? This cold one is bom of the foam, 
like Venus. 

HECTOR. You haven't disfigured the 
walls of the palace with offensive draw- 
ings, as you usually do? You didn't shout 
to the echoes any word which they would 
at once repeat to the betrayed husband? 

PARIS. No. Menelaus was naked on the 



river bank, busy removing a crab from 
his big toe. He w^atched my boat sail past 
as if the wind were carrying his clothes 
away. 

HECTOR. Looking furious? 

PARIS. The face of a king being nipped 
by a crab isn't likely to look beatific. 

HECTOR. No onlookers? 

PARIS. My crew. 

HECTOR. Perfect ! 

PARIS. Why perfect? What are you 
getting at? 

HECTOR. I say perfect, because you 
have done nothing irrevocable. In other 
words : she was undressed, so neither her 
clothes nor her belongings have been 
insulted. Nothing except her body, which 
is negligible. I've enough acquaintance 
with the Greeks to know they will con- 
coct a divine adventure out of it, to their 
own glory, the story of this little Greek 
queen w^ho goes down into the sea, and 
quietly comes up again a few months 
later, with a look on her face of perfect 
innocence. 

CASSANDRA. Wt Can be quite sure of 
the look on her face. 

PARIS. You think that I'm going to 
take Helen back to Menelaus? 

HECTOR. We don't ask so much of you, 
or of her. The Greek ambassador will 
take care of it. He will put her back in the 
sea himself, like a gardener planting 
water-lilies, at a particulier chosen spot. 
You will give her into his hands this 
evening. 

PARIS. I don't know whether you are 
allowing yourself to notice how mon- 
strous you are being, to suppose that a 
man who has the prospect of a night 
with Helen will agree to giving it up. 

CASSANDRA. You Still havc an afternoon 
with Helen. Surelv that's more Greek? 

HECTOR. Don't be obstinate. We 
know you of old. This isn't the first 
separation you've accepted. 

PARIS. My dear Hector, that's true 
enough. Up to now I have always 
accepted separations fairly cheerfully. 
Parting from a woman, however well you 
love her, induces a most pleasant state of 
mind, which I know how to value as 
well as anybody. You come out of her 
arms and take your first lonely walk 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



6i 



through the town, and, the first little 
dressmaker you meet, you notice with a 
shock of surprise how fresh and uncon- 
cerned she looks, after that last sight you 
have had of the dear face you parted from, 
her nose red with weeping. Because you 
have come away from such broken, 
despairing farewells, the laundrygirls and 
the fruitsellers laughing their heads off, 
more than make up for whatever you've 
lost in the parting. By losing one person 
your life has become entirely re-peopled. 
All the women in the world have been 
created for you afresh ; they are all your 
own, in the liberty, honour, and peace 
of your conscience. Yes, you're quite 
right: when a love-affair is broken off 
it reaches its highest point of exaltation. 
Which is why I shall never be parted 
from Helen, because with Helen I feel 
as though I had broken with every other 
woman in the world, and that gives me 
the sensation of being free a thousand 
times over instead of once. 

HECTOR, Because she doesn't love you. 
Everything you say proves it. 

PARIS. If you like. But, if I had to 
choose one out of all the possible ways 
of passion, I would choose the way Helen 
doesn't love me. 

HECTOR. I'm extremely sorry. But you 
will give her up. 

PARIS. You are not the master here. 

HECTOR. I am your elder brother, and 
the future master. 

PARIS. Then order me about in the 
future. For the present, I obey my father. 

HECTOR. That's all I want! You're 
willing that we should put this to Priam 
and accept his judgment? 

PARIS. Perfectly willing. 

HECTOR. On your solemn word? We 
both swear to accept that? 

CASSANDRA. Mind what you're doing. 
Hector! Priam is mad for Helen. He 
would rather give up his daughters. 

HECTOR. What nonsense is this?- 

PARIS. For once she is telling the thrut 
about the present instead of the future. 

CASSANDRA. And all our brothers, and all 
our uncles, and all our great-great uncles ! 
Helen has a guard-of-honour which 
includes every old man in the city. Look 
there. It is time for her walk. Do you 



see, there's a fringe of white beards 
draped all along the battlements? 

HECTOR. A beautiful sight. The beards 
are white, and the faces red. 

CASSANDRA. Yes ; it's the blood pres- 
sure. They should be waiting at the 
Scamander Gate, to welcome the victori- 
ous troops. But no; they are all at the 
Sceean Gate, waiting for Helen. 

HECTOR. Look at them, all leaning 
forward as one man, like storks when they 
see a rat going by. 

CASSANDRA. The rat is Helen. 

PARIS. Is it? 

CASSANDRA. There she is : on the 
second terrace, standing to adjust her 
sandal, and giving careful thought to the 
crossing of her legs. 

HECTOR. Incredible. All the old men 
of Troy are there looking down at her. 

CASSANDRA. Not all. There are certain 
crafty ones looking up at her. 
(Cries offstage: Long live Beauty!) 

HECTOR. What are they shouting? 

PARIS. They're shouting 'Long live 
Beauty ! ' 

CASSANDRA. I quitc agree with them, 
if they mean that they themselves should 
die as quickly as possible. 
(Cries offstage: Long live Venus!) 

HECTOR. And what now? 

CASSANDRA. 'Long livc Venus.' They 
are shouting only words without R's in 
them because of their lack of teeth. Long 
live Beauty, long live Venus, long live 
Helen. At least they imagine they're 
shouting, though, as you can hear, all they 
are doing is simply increasing a mumble 
to its highest power. 

HECTOR. What has Venus to do 
with it? 

CASSANDRA. They imagine it was 
Venus who gave us Helen. To show her 
gratitude to Paris for awarding her the 
apple on first sight. 

HECTOR. That was another brilliant 
stroke of yours. 

PARIS. Stop playing the elder brother! 
(Enter two old men. J 

I St OLD MAN. Down there we see her 
better. 

2nd OLD MAN. We had a very good 
view. 



62 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



I St OLD MAN. But she can hear us 
better from up here. Come on. One, two, 
three ! 

BOTH. Long live Helen! 

2nd OLD MAN. It's a little tiring, at 
our age, to have to climb up and dow^n 
these impossible steps all the time, 
according to whether we want to look 
at her or to cheer her. 

I St OLD MAN. Would you like us to 
alternate? One day we will cheer her? 
Another day we will look at her? 

2nd OLD MAN. You are mad! One day 
without looking at Helen, indeed! Good- 
ness me, think what we've seen of her 
today! One, two, three! 

BOTH. Long live Helen! 

ist OLD MAN. And now down we go 
again ! 
(They run off.) 

CASSANDRA. You sec what they're like, 
Hector. I don't know how their poor 
lungs are going to stand it. 

HECTOR. But our father can't be like 
this. 

PARIS. Hector, before we have this out 
in front of my father, I suppose you 
wouldn't like to take just one look at 
Helen. 

HECTOR. I don't care a fig about Helen. 
Ah: greetings to you, father! 
(Priam enters, with Hecuba, Andromache, 
the poet Demokos and another old man. 
Hecuba leads by the hand little Volyxene.) 

PRIAM. What was it you said? 

HECTOR. 1 said that we should make 
haste to shut the Gates of War, father, 
see them bolted and padlocked, so that 
not even a gnat can get between them. 

PRIAM. I thought what you said was 
somewhat shorter. 

DEMOKOS. He said he didn't care a fig 
about Helen. 

PRIAM. Look over here. 
(Hector obeys) 
Do you see her? 

HECUBA. Indeed he sees her. Who, I 
ask myself, doesn't see her, or hasn't 
seen her? She takes the road which goes 
the whole way round the city. 

DEMOKOS. It is Beauty's perfect circle. 

PRIAM. Do you see her? 

HECTOR. Yes, I see her. What of it? 



DEMOKOS. Priam is asking you what 
you see. 

HECTOR. I see a young woman adjust- 
ing her sandal. 

CASSANDRA. She takes some time to 
adjust her sandal. 

PARIS. I carried her off naked; she left 
her clothes in Greece. Those are your 
sandals, Cassandra. They're a bit big for 
her. 

CASSANDRA. Anything 's too big for 
these little women. 

HECTOR. I see two charming buttocks. 

HECUBA. He sees what all of you see. 

PRIAM. I'm sorry for you ! 

HECTOR. Why? 

PRIAM. I had no idea that the young 
men of Troy had come to this . 

HECTOR. What have they come to? 

PRIAM. To being impervious to beauty. 

DEMOKOS. And, consequently, igno- 
rant of love. And, consequently, un- 
realistic. To us who are poets reality is 
love or nothing, 

HECTOR. But the old men, you think, 
can appreciate love and beauty? 

HECUBA. But of course. If you make 
love, or if you are beautiful, you don't 
need to understand these things. 

HECTOR. You come across beauty, 
father, at every street corner. I'm not 
alluding to Helen, though at the moment 
she condescends to walk our streets. 

PRIAM. You are being unfair. Hector. 
Surely there have been occasions in your 
life when a woman has seemed to be more 
than merely herself, as though a radiance 
of thoughts and feelings glowed from her 
flesh, taking a special brillance from it. 

DEMOKOS. As a ruby represents blood. 

HECTOR. Not to those who have seen 
blood. I have just come back from a close 
acquaintance with it. 

DEMOKOS. A symbol, you understand. 
Soldier though you are, you have surely 
heard of symbolism ! Surely you have 
come across women who as soon as you 
saw them seemed to you to personify 
intelligence, harmony, gentleness, what- 
ever it might be ? 

HECTOR. It has happened. 

DEMOKOS. And what did you do? 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



63 



HECTOR. I went closer, and that was 
the end of it. And what does this we see 
here personify? 

DEMOKOS. We have told you before : 
Beauty. 

HECUBA. Then send her quickly back 
to the Greeks if you want her to personify 
that for long. Blonde beauty doesn't 
usually last for ever. 

DEMOKOS. It's impossible to talk to 
these women ! 

HECUBA. Then don't talk a Z)out women. 
You're not showing much gallantry, I 
might say; nor patriotism either. All 
other races choose one of their own 
women as their symbol, even if they have 
flat noses and lips like two fishes on a 
plate. It's only you who have to go 
outside your own country to find it. 

HECTOR. Listen, father: we are just 
back from a war, and we have come 
home exhausted. We have made quite 
certain of peace on our continent for ever. 
From now on we mean to live in happi- 
ness, and we mean our wives to be able 
to love us without anxiety, and to bear 
our children. 

DEMOKOS. Wise principles, but war 
has never prevented wives from having 
children. 

HECTOR. So explain to me why we have 
come back to find the city transformed 
all because of Helen? Explain to me what 
you think she has given to us, worth a 
quarrel with the Greeks? 

MATHEMATICIAN. Anybody will tell 
you! I can tell you myself! 

HECUBA. Listen to the mathematician ! 

MATHEMATICIAN. Ycs, listen to the 
mathematician! And don't think that 
mathematicians have no concern with 
!. women! We're the land-surveyors of 
your personal landscape. I can't tell you 
how we mathematicians suffer to see any 
slight disproportion of the flesh, on the 
chin or the thigh, any infringement of 
your geometrical desirability. Well now, 
until this day mathematicians have never 

I been satisfied with the countryside sur- 
rounding Troy. The line linking the plain 
with the hills seemed to us too slack: 
the line from the hills to the mountains 
too taut. Now, since Helen came, the 
country has taken on meaning and vigour. 



\ 



And, what is particularly evident to true 
mathematicians, space and volume have 
now found in Helen a common denomi- 
nator. We can abolish all the instruments 
we have invented to reduce the universe 
to a manageable equation. There are no 
more feet and inches, ounces, pounds, 
milligrams or leagues. There is only the 
weight of Helen's footfall, the length of 
Helen's arm, the range of Helen's look 
or voice ; and the movement of the air 
as she goes past is the measure of the 
winds. That is what the mathematicians 
will tell you. 

HECUBA. The old fool is crying. 

PRIAM. My dear son, you have only to 
look at this crowd, and you will under- 
stand what Helen is. She is a kind of 
absolution. To each one of these old men, 
whom you can see now like a frieze of 
grotesque heads all round the city walls : 
to the old swindler, the old thief, the old 
pandar, to all the old failures, she has 
showTi they always had a secret longing 
to rediscover the beauty they had lost. If 
throughout their lives beauty had always 
been as close at hand as Helen is today, 
they would never have tricked their 
friends, or sold their daughters, or drunk 
away their inheritance. Helen is like a 
pardon to them : a new beginning for 
them, their whole future. 

HECTOR. These old men's ancient 
futures are no concern of mine. 

DEMOKOS. Hector, as a poet I ap- 
proach things by the way of poetry. 
Imagine if beauty, never, at any time, 
touched our language. Imagine there 
being no such word as 'delight'. 

HECTOR. We should get on well 
enough without it. I get on without it 
already. 'Delight' is a word I use only 
when I'm absolutely driven to it. 

DEMOKOS. Well, then the word 
'desirable' : you could get on without 
that as well, I suppose? 

HECTOR. If it could be bought only at 
the cost of war, yes, I could get on without 
the word 'desirable'. 

DEMOKOS. One of the most beautiful 
words there are w^as found only at the 
cost of war: the word 'courage'. 

HECTOR. It has been well paid for. 



64 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



HECUBA. And the word 'cowardice' 
was inevitably found at the same time. 

PRIAM. My son, why do you so deHber- 
ately not understand us? 

HECTOR. I understand you very well. 
With the help of a quibble, by pretending 
to persuade us to fight for beauty you 
want to get us to fight for a woman. 

PRIAM. Would you never go to war for 
any woman? 

HECTOR. Certainly not ! 

HECUBA. And he would be unchival- 
rously right. 

CASSANDRA. If there were only one 
woman, then perhaps he would go to war 
for her. But we have exceeded that num- 
ber, quite extravagantly. 

DEMOKOS. Wouldn't you go to war to 
rescue Andromache? 

HECTOR. Andromache and I have 
already made our secret plans for escaping 
from any prison in the world, and finding 
our way back to each other again. 

DEMOKOS. Even if there's no hope of it 
on earth? 

HECTOR. Even then. 

HECUBA. You have done well to un- 
mask them, Hector. They want you to 
make war for the sake of a woman; it's 
the kind of lovemaking men believe in 
who are past making love in any other 
way. 

DEMOKOS. And doesn't that make you 
all the more valuable? 

HECUBA. Ah yes! You may say so! 

DEMOKOS. Excuse me, but I can't 
agree with you. The sex which gave me 
my mother will always have my respect, 
even its least worthy representatives. 

HECUBA. We know that. You have, as 
we know, shown your respect for in- 
stance to 

(^The servants who have stood by to hear the 
argument hurst out laughing . ) 

PRIAM. Hecuba ! Daughters ! What can 
this mean? Why on earth are you all so 
up in arms? The Council are considering 
giving the city a public holiday in honour 
of one of your sex. 

ANDROMACHE. I know of Only one 
humiliation for a woman: injustice. 

DEMOKOS. It's painful to say so, but 
there's no one knows less what a woman 
is than a woman. 



(The young servant^ passing: Oh, dear! 
dear ! ) 

HECUBA. We know perfectly well. I 
will tell you myself what a woman is. 

DEMOKOS. Don't let them talk, Priam. 
You never know what they might say. 

HECUBA. They might tell the truth. 

PRIAM. I have only to think of one of 
you, my dears, to know what a woman is. 

DEMOKOS. In the first place, she is the 
source of our energy. You know that, 
Hector. The soldiers who haven't a por- 
trait of a woman in their kit aren't 
worth anything. 

CASSANDRA. The source of your pride, 
yes, I agree. 

HECUBA. Of your vices. 

ANDROMACHE. She is a poor bundle of 
uncertainty, a poor mass of fears, who 
detests whatever is difficult, and adores 
whatever is vulgar and easy. 

HECTOR. Dear Andromache ! 

HECUBA. It's very simple. I have been 
a woman for fifty years, and I've never yet 
been able to discover precisely what it is 
I am. 

DEMOKOS. Secondly, whether she likes 
it or not, she's the only reward for cour- 
age. Ask any soldier. To kill a man is to 
merit a woman. 

ANDROMACHE. She lovcs cowards and 
libertines. If Hector were a coward or a 
libertine I shouldn't love him less; I 
might even love him more. 

PRIAM. Don't go too far, Andromache. 
You will prove the very opposite of what 
you want to prove. 

POLYXENE. she is greedy. She tells lies. 

DEMOKOS. So we're to say nothing of 
her fidelity, her purity: we are not to 
inention them? 

THE SERVANT. Oh, dear! dear! 

DEMOKOS. What did you say? 

THE SERVANT. I Said 'Oh, dear! dear!' 
I say what I think. 

POLYXENE. She breaks her toys. She 
puts them headfirst into boiling water. 

HECUBA. The older we women grow, 
the more clearly we see what men really 
are: hypocrites, boasters, he-goats. The 
older men grow, the more they doll us 
up with every perfection. There isn't a 
slut you've hugged behind a wall who 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



65 



isn't transformed in your memories into a 
loved and lovely creature. 

PRIAM. Have you ever deceived me, 
Hecuba? 

HECUBA. Only w^ith yourself; scores of 
time with yourself. 

DEMOKOS. Has Andromache ever de- 
ceived Hector? 

HECUBA. You can leave Andromache 
out of this. There is nothing she could 
recognize in the sad histories of erring 
w^omen. 

ANDROMACHE. But I know^ if Hector 
were not my husband, if he were a club- 
footed, bandy-legged fisherman I should 
run after him and find him in his hovel, 
and lie down on the pile of oyster-shells 
and seaweed, and give him a son in 
adultery. 

POLYXENE. She pretends to go to sleep 
at night, but she's really playing games 
in her head with her eyes shut. 

HECUBA (to Volyxene). You may well 
say so ! It's dreadful ! You know how 1 
scold you for it ! 

THE SERVANT. The Only thing worse 
than a woman is a man; there are no 
words to describe him. 

DEMOKOS. Then more's the pity if a 
woman deceives us ! More's the pity if she 
scorns her own value and dignity ! If she 
can't be true to a pattern of perfection 
which would save her from the ravages of 
conscience, we have to do it for her. 

THE SERVANT. Oh, the kind guardian 
angel ! 

PARIS. One thing they've forgotten to 
say of themselves : they are never jealous. 

PRIAM. My dear daughters, the fact 
that you're so furious is a proof in itself 
that we are right. 1 can't conceive of any 
greater unselfishness than the way you 
now fight for peace, when peace will give 
you idle, feeble, chicken-hearted hus- 
bands, and war would turn them into 
men. 

DEMOKOS. Into heroes. 

HECUBA. Yes, we know the jargon. In 
war-time a man is called a hero. It doesn't 
make him any braver, and he runs for his 
life. But at least it's a hero who is running 
away. 

ANDROMACHE. Father, I must beg you 
to listen. If you have such a fondness for 



women, listen to what they have to say 
to you, for I can promise I speak for all 
the women in the world. Let us keep our 
husbands as they are. The gods took care 
to see they were surrounded with enough 
obstacles and dangers to keep them brave 
and vigourous. Quite enough if they had 
nothing to cope with except floods and 
storms ! Or only wild animals ! The small 
game, foxes and hares and pheasants, which 
a woman can scarcely distinguish from the 
heather they hide in, prove a man's 
quickness of eye far better than this target 
you propose : the enemy's heart hiding 
in flesh and metal. Whenever I have seen 
a man kill a stag or an eagle, I have offered 
up thanks to them. I know they died for 
Hector. Why should you want me to owe 
Hector to the deaths of other men? 

PRIAM. I don't want it, my dear child. 
But why do you think you are here now, 
all looking so beautiful, and valiantly 
demanding peace ? Why : because your 
husbands and your fathers, and their 
fathers, and theirs, were fighting men. If 
they had been too lazy and self-indulgent to 
spring to arms, if they hadn't known how 
this dull and stupid business we call life 
suddenly leaps into flame and justifies itself 
through the scorn men have for it, you 
would findj/ou were the cowards now, and 
you would be clamouring for war. A man 
has only one way of being immortal on 
this earth: he has to forget he is mortal. 

ANDROMACHE. Why, exactly SO, father 
you're only too right. The brave men die 
in war. It takes great luck or judgment 
not to be killed. Once at least the head 
has to bow and the knee has to bend to 
danger. The soldiers vv^ho march back 
under the triumphal arches are death's 
deserters. How can a country increase in 
strength and honour by sending them 
both to their graves? 

PRIAM. Daughter, the first sign of 
cowardice in a people is their first mo- 
ment of decay. 

ANDROMACHE. But which is the worse 
cowardice ? To appear cowardly to others, 
and make sure of peace? Or to be coward- 
ly in your own eyes, and let loose a war? 

DEMOKOS. Cowardice is not to prefer 
death on every hand rather than the death 
of one's native land. 



66 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



HECUBA. I was expecting poetry at this 
point. It never lets us down. 

ANDROMACHE. Evcryone always dies 
for his country. If you have lived in it, 
well and wisely and actively, you die for 
it too. 

HECUBA. It would be better if only the 
old men fought the wars. Every country 
is the country of youth. When its youth 
dies it dies with them. 

DEMOKOS. All this nonsense about 
youth! In thirty years time youth is 
nothing but these old men you talk about. 

CASSANDRA. Wrong. 

HECUBA. Wrong! When a grown man 
reaches forty we change him for an old 
one. He has completely disapperead. 
There's only the most superficial resem- 
blance between the two of them. Nothing 
is handed on from one to the other. 

DEMOKOS. I still take a serious concern 
in my fame as a poet. 

HECUBA. Yes, that's quite true. And 
your rheumatism. 

(Another outburst of laughter from the ser- 
vants. J 

HECTOR. And you can listen to all this 
without saying a word, Paris? Can you 
still not decide to give up an adventure to 
save us from years of unhappiness and 
massacre ? 

PARIS. What do you want me to say? 
My case is an international problem. 

HECTOR. Are you really in love with 
Helen, Paris? 

CASSANDRA. They've become now a 
kind of symbol of love's devotion. They 
don't still have to love each other. 

PARIS. 1 worship Helen. 

CASSANDRA (at the rampart) . Here she is . 

HECTOR. If I persuade her to set sail, 
will you agree? 

PARIS. Yes, I'll agree. 

HECTOR. Father, if Helen is willing 
to go back to Greece, will you hold her 
here by force? 

PRIAM. Why discuss the impossible? 

HECTOR. Do you call it impossible? 
If women are a tenth of what you say they 
are, Helen will go of her own free will. 

PARIS. Father, now /'m going to ask 
you to let him do what he wants. You 
have seen what it's like. As soon as the 
question of Helen cropped up, this whole 



tribe royal turned itself into a family 
conclave of all the poor girl's sisters-in- 
law, mother- and father-in-law, brother- 
in-law, worthy of the best middle-class 
tradition. I doubt if there's anything more 
humiliating than to be cast for the part of 
the seducer son in a large family. I've had 
quite enough of their insinuations. 1 ac- 
cept Hector's challenge. 

DEMOKOS. Helen's not only yours, 
Paris. She belongs to the city. She belongs 
to our country. 

MATHEMATICIAN. She belongs to the 
landscape. 

HECUBA. You be quiet, mathematician. 

CASSANDRA. Here's Helen ; here she is. 

HECTOR. Father, I must ask you to let 
me handle this. Listen; they are calling 
us to go to the ceremony, to close the 
Gates of War. Leave this to me. I'll join 
you soon. 

PRIAM. Do you really agree to this, 
Paris ? 

PARIS. I'm eager for it. 

PRIAM. Very well, then; let it be so. 
Come along, the rest of you; we will see 
that the Gates of War are made ready. 

CASSANDRA. Those poor gates. They 
need more oil to shut them than to open 
them. 
(Paris and the rest withdraw. Demokos stays.) 

HECTOR. What are you waiting for? 

DEMOKOS. The visitation of my genius. 

HECTOR. Say that again? 

DEMOKOS. Every time Helen walks my 
way I am thrown into a transport of 
inspiration. I shake all over, break into 
sweat, and improvise. Good heavens, here 
it is! (He declaims:) 

Beautiful Helen, Helen of Sparta, 
Singular as the evening star. 

The gods forbid that we should part a 
Pair as fair as you and Paris are. 

HECTOR. Your line-endings give me a 
headache. 

DEMOKOS. It's an invention of mine. 
I can obtain effects even more surprising. 
Listen : (declaims) 

Face the great Hector with no qualm, 
Troy's glory though he be, and the 
world's terror; 

He is the storm, and you the after-calm, 
Yours is the right, and his the 
boist'rous error. 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



67 



HECTOR. Get out! 

DEMOKOS. What are you glaring at? 
You look as though you have as little liking 
for poetry as you have for w^ar. 

HECTOR. They make a pretty couple ! 
Novv^ vanish. 
fExit Demokos. Enter Cassandra. J 

CASSANDRA. Helen! 
(Enter Helen and Paris.) 

PARIS. Here he is, Helen darling; this 
is Hector. He has a proposition to make 
to you, a perfectly simple proposition. 
He wants to hand you over to the Greeks, 
and prove to you that you don't love me. 
Tell me you do love me, before I leave 
you with him. Tell me in your own words. 

HELEN. 1 adore you, my sweet. 

PARIS. Tell me how beautiful the wave 
was which swept you away from Greece. 

HELEN. Magnificent! A magnificent 
wave ! Where did you see a wave ? The sea 
was so calm. 

PARIS. Tell me you hate Menelaus. 

HELEN. Menelaus? 1 hate him. 

PARIS. You haven't finished yet. I shall 
never again return to Greece. Say that. 

HELEN. You will never again return to 
Greece. 

PARIS. No, no, this is about you, my 
darling. 

HELEN. Oh, of course ! How silly I am ! 
I shall never again return to Greece. 

PARIS. I didn't make her say it. — 
Now it's up to you. (He goes off) 

HECTOR. Is Greece a beautiful country? 

HELEN. Paris found it ravishing. 

HECTOR. I meant is Greece itself 
beautiful, apart from Helen? 

HELEN. How very charming of you. 

HECTOR. I was simply wondering what 
it is really like. 

HELEN. Well, there are quite a great 
many kings, and a great many goats, 
dotted about on marble. 

HECTOR. If the kings are in gold, and 
the goats angora, that would look pretty 
well w^hen the sun was rising. 

HELEN. I don't get up very early. 

HECTOR. And a great many gods as 
well, I believe? Paris tells me the sky is 
crawling with them ; he tells me you can 
see the legs of goddesses hanging down 
from the clouds. 

HELEN. Paris always goes about with 



his nose in the air. He may have seen 
them. 

HECTOR. But you haven't? 

HELEN. I am not gifted that way. I will 
look out for them when I go back there 
again. 

HECTOR. You were telling Paris you 
would never be going back there. 

HELEN. He asked me to tell him so. 
I adore doing what Paris wants me to do. 

HECTOR. I see. Is that also true of what 
you said about Menelaus? Do you not, 
after all, hate him? 

HELEN. Why should I hate him? 

HECTOR. For the one reason which 
might certainly make for hate. You have 
seen too much of him. 

HELEN. Menelaus? Oh, no! I have 
never seen Menelaus. On the contrary. 

HECTOR. You have never seen your 
husband ? 

HELEN. There are some things, and 
certain people, that stand out in bright 
colours for me. They are the ones I can 
see. I believe in them. I have never been 
able to see Menelaus. 

HECTOR. Though I suppose he must 
have come very close to you sometimes. 

HELEN. I have been able to touch him. 
But I can't honestly tell you 1 saw him. 

HECTOR. They say he never left your 
side. 

HELEN. Apparently. I must have walked 
across him a great many times without 
knowing it. 

HECTOR. Whereas you have seen Paris. 

HELEN. Vividly ; in the clearest outline 
against the sky and the sun. 

HECTOR. Does he still stand out as 
vividly as he did? Look down there: 
leaning against the rampart. 

HELEN. Are you sure that's Paris, 
dowTi there? 

HECTOR. He is waiting for you. 

HELEN. Good gracious! He's not 
nearly as clear as usual ! 

HECTOR. And yet the wall is freshly 
whitewashed. Look again : there he is in 
profile. 

HELEN. It's odd how people waiting 
for you stand out far less clearly than 
people you are waiting for. 

HECTOR. Are you sure that Paris loves 
you? 



68 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



HELEN. I don't like knowing about 
other people's feelings. There is nothing 
more embarrassing. Just as when you play 
cards and you see your opponent's hand. 
You are sure to lose. 

HECTOR. What about yourself? Do 
you love him? 

HELEN. I don't much like knowing my 
own feelings either. 

HECTOR. But, listen: when you make 
love with Paris, when he sleeps in your 
arms, when you are circled round with 
Paris, overwhelmed with Paris, haven't 
you any thoughts about is? 

HELEN. My part is over. I leave any 
thinking to the universe. It does it much 
better than I do. 

HECTOR. Have there been many others 
before Paris? 

HELEN. Some. 

HECTOR. And there will be others after 
him, wouldn't you say, as long as they 
stand out in clear relief against the sky, or 
the white sheets on the bed? It is just as I 
thought it was. You don't love Paris par- 
ticularly, Helen; you love men. 

HELEN. I don't dislike them. They're 
as pleasant as soap and a sponge and warm 
water ; you feel cleansed and refreshed by 
them. 

HECTOR. Cassandra! Cassandra! 

CASSANDRA (entering). What do you 
want? 

HECTOR. Cassandra, Helen is going 
back this evening with the Greek ambas- 
sador. 

HELEN. I? What makes you think so. 

HECTOR. Weren't you telling me that 
you didn't love Paris particularly? 

HELEN. That was your interpretation. 
Still, if you like. 

HECTOR. I quote my authority. You 
have the same liking for men as you have 
for a cake of soap. 

HELEN. Yes; or pumice stone perhaps 
is better. What about it? 

HECTOR. Well, then, you're not going 
to hesitate in your choice between going 
back to Greece, which you don't mind, 
and a catastrophe as terrible as war? 

HELEN. You don't understand me at all, 
Hector. Of course I'm not hesitating. It 
would be very easy to say T will do this 
or that, so that this can happen or that can 



happen.' You've discovered my weakness 
and you are overjoyed. The man who 
discovers a woman's weakness is like the 
huntsman in the heat of the day who finds 
a cool spring. He wallows in it. But you 
mustn't think, because you have convinced 
me, you've convinced the future, too. 
Merely by making children behave as you 
want them to, you don't alter the course 
of destiny. 

HECTOR. 1 don't follow your Greek 
shades and subtleties. 

HELEN. It's not a question of shades 
and subtleties. It's no less than a question 
of monsters and pyramids. 

HECTOR. Do you choose to leave here, 
yes or no ? 

HELEN. Don't bully me. I choose what 
happens in the way I choose men, or 
anything else. I choose whatever is not 
indefinite and vague. I choose what I see. 

HECTOR. I know, you said that: what 
you see in the brightest colours. And you 
don't see yourself returning to Menelaus 
in a few day's time? 

HELEN. No. It's very difficult. 

HECTOR. We could no doubt persuade 
your husband to dress with great brilliance 
for your return. 

HELEN. All the purple dye from all the 
murex shells in the sea wouldn't make 
him visible to me. 

HECTOR. Here you have a rival, Cas- 
sandra. Helen can read the future, too. 

HELEN. No, I can't read the future. 
But when I imagine the future some of the 
pictures I see are coloured, and some are 
dull and drab. And up to now it has always 
been the coloured scenes which have 
happened in the end. 

HECTOR. We are going to give you 
back to the Greeks at high noon, on the 
blinding sand, between the violet sea and 
the ochre-coloured wall. We shall all be 
in golden armour with red skirts ; and my 
sisters, dressed in green and standing 
between my white stallion and Priam's 
black mare, will return you to the Greek 
ambassador, over whose silver helmet I 
can imagine tall purple plumes. You see 
that, I think? 

HELEN. No, none of it. It is all quite 
sombre. 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



69 



HECTOR. You are mocking me, aren't 
you? 

HELEN, why should I mock you ? Very 
well, then. Let us go, if you like ! Let us 
go and get ready to return me to the 
Greeks. We shall see what happens. 

HECTOR. Do you realize how you 
insult humanity, or is it unconscious? 

HELEN. I don't know what you mean. 

HECTOR. You realize that your coloured 
picture-book is holding the world up to 
ridicule? While we are all battling and 
making sacrifices to bring about a time 
we can call our own, there are you, 
looking at your pictures which nothing in 
all eternity can alter. What's wrong? 
Which one has made you stop and stare 
at it with those blind eyes? I don't doubt 
it's the one where you are standing here 
on the ramparts, watching the battle going 
on below. Is it the battle you see? 

HELEN. Yes. 

HECTOR. And the city is in ruins or 
burning, isn't that so? 

HELEN. Yes. It's a vivid red. 

HECTOR. And what about Paris? You 
are seeing his body dragged behind a 
chariot? 

HELEN. Oh, do you think that is Paris? 
I see what looks like a flash of sunlight in 
the dust. A diamond sparkling on his hand 
Yes, it is! Often I don't recognize faces, 
but I always recognize the jewellery. It's 
his ring, I'm quite certain. 

HECTOR. Exactly. Do I dare to ask you 
about Andromache, and myself, the scene 
of Andromache and Hector? You are 
looking at us. Don't deny it. How do you 
see us? Happy, grown old, bathed in 
light? 

HELEN. I am not trying to see it. 

HECTOR. The scene of Andromache 
weeping over the body of Hector, does 
that shine clearer? 

HELEN. You seem to know. But 
sometimes I see things shining, brilliantly 
shining, and they never happen. No one is 
infallible. 

HECTOR. You needn't go on. I under- 
stand. There is a son between the weeping 
mother and the father stretched on the 
ground ? 

HELEN. Yes. He is playing with his 
father's tangled hair. He is a sweet boy. 



HECTOR. And these scenes are there in 
your eyes, dovsoi in the depths of them. 
Could I see them there? 

HELEN. I don't know. Look. 

HECTOR. Nothing. Nothing except the 
ashes of all those fires, the gold and the 
emerald in dust. How innocent it is, this 
crystal where the future is waiting. But 
there should be tears bathing it, and where 
are they? Would you cry, Helen, if you 
were going to be killed? 

HELEN. I don't know. But I should 
scream. And I feel I shall scream if you go 
on at me like this. Hector. I am going to 
scream. 

HECTOR. You will leave for Greece 
this evening, Helen, otherwise I shall 
kill you. 

HELEN. But I want to leave! I'm pre- 
pared to leave. All that I'm trying to tell 
is that I simply can't manage to distinguish 
the ship that is going to carry me there. 
Nothing is shining in the least, neither the 
metal on the mast, nor the ring in the 
captain's nose, nor the cabin-boy's eyes, 
nor anything. 

HECTOR, You will go back on a grey 
sea under a grey sun. But we must have 
peace. 

HELEN. I cannot see peace. 

HECTOR. Ask Cassandra to make her 
appear for you. Cassandra is a sorceress. 
She can summon up shapes and spirits. 

A MESSENGER (entering) . Hector, Priam 
is asking for you. The priests are opposed 
to our shutting the Gates of War. They 
say the gods will consider it an insult. 

HECTOR. It is curious how the gods 
can never speak for themselves in these 
difficult matters. 

MESSiNGER. They have spoken for 
themselves. A thunderbolt has fallen on 
the temple, several men have been killed, 
the entrails of the victims have been 
consulted, and they are unanimously 
against Helen's return to Greece. 

HECTOR. I would give a good deal to 
be able to consult the entrails of the 
priests . . . I'll follow you. 
(The messinger goes. J 

Well, now, Helen, do we agree about 
this? 

HELEN. Yes. 



70 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



HECTOR. From now on you will say 
what I tell you to say? You will do what 
I tell you to do? 

HELEN. Yes. 

HECTOR. When we come in front of 
Ulysses you won't contradict me, you 
will bear out everything I say? 

HELEN. Yes. 

HECTOR. Do you hear this, Cassandra? 
Listen to this solid wall of negation which 
says Yes! They have all given in to me. 
Paris has given in to me, Priam has given 
in to me, Helen has given in tome. And 
yet I can't help feeling that in each of these 
apparent victories I have been defeated. 
You set out, thinking you are going to have 
to wrestle with giants ; you brace yourself 
to conquer them, and you find yourself 
wrestling with something inflexible re- 
flected in a woman's eye. You have said 
yes beautifully, Helen, and you're brimful 
of a stubborn determination to defy me ! 

HELEN. That's possible. But how can I 
help it? It isn't my own determination. 

HECTOR. By what peculiar vagary did 
the world choose to place its mirror in 
this obtuse head? 

HELEN. It's most regrettable, obvious- 
ly. But can you see any way of defeating 
the obstinacy of a mirror? 

HECTOR. Yes. I've been considering 
that for the past several minutes. 

ANOTHER MESSINGER (entering). Hec- 
tor, make haste. They are in a turmoil of 
revolt dowm on the beach. The Greek 
ships have been sighted, and they have 
hoisted their flag not masthead but 
hatchway. The honour of our navy is at 
stake. Priam is afraid the ambassador 
may be murdered as soon as he lands. 

HECTOR. I leave you in charge of Helen, 
Cassandra. I must go and give my orders. 

HELEN. If you break the mirror, will 
what is reflected in it cease to exist? 

HECTOR. That is the whole question. 
(Exit Hector.) 

* CASSANDRA. I nevcT scc anything at all, 
you know, either coloured or not. But I 
can feel the weight on me of every person 
who comes towards me. I know what is 
in store for them by the sensation of 
suffering which flows into my veins. 

* The following portion of the act was omitted in 
the Broadway production. 



HELEN. Is it true that you are a 
sorceress? Could you really make Peace 
take shape and appear for us? 

CASSANDRA. Peacc? Very easily. She 
is always standing in her beggarly way on 
every threshold. Wait . . . you will see 
her novv^. 
(Peace appears.) 

HELEN. Oh, how pretty she is ! 

PEACE. Come to my rescue, Helen: 
help me! 

HELEN. But how pale and wan she is. 

PEACE. Pale and wan? What do you 
mean? Don't you see the gold shining in 
my hair? 

HELEN. Gold? Well, perhaps a golden 
grey. It's very original. 

PEACE. Golden grey? Is my gold now 
grey? 
(She disappears.) 

CASSANDRA. I think she means to make 
herself clearer. 
(Peace re-appears^ outrageously painted.) 

PEACE. Is that better now? 

HELEN. I don't see her as well as I did 
before. 

PEACE. Is that better? 

CASSANDRA. Helen doesn't see you as 
as well as she did. 

PEACE. But you can see me: you are 
speaking to me. 

CASSANDRA. It's my speciality to speak 
to the invisible. 

PEACE. What is going on, then? Why 
are all the men in the city and along the 
beach making such a pandemonium? 

CASSANDRA. Apparently their gods are 
insulted, and their honour is at stake. 

PEACE. Their gods! Their honour! 

CASSANDRA. Ycs . . . You are ill ! 

THE CURTAIN FALLS 



ACT TWO 

A palace enclosure. At each corner a view 
of the sea. In the middle a monument ^ the 
Gates oj War. They are wide open. 

HELEN. You, you, hey! You down 
there! Yes, it's you I'm calling. Come 
here. 

TROILUS. No. 

HELEN, what is your name? 

TROILUS. Troilus. 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



71 



HELEN. Come here. 

TROILUS. No. 

HELEN. Come here, Troilus! 
fTroilus draws near. J 

That's the way. You obey when you're 
called by your name : you are still very 
like a puppy. It's rather beguiling. Do you 
know you have made me call out to a 
man for the first time in my life. They 
keep so close to my side I have only usually 
to move my lips. I have called out to sea- 
gulls, to dogs, to the echoes, but never 
before to a man. You will pay for that. 
What's the matter? Are you trembling? 

TROILUS. No, I'm not. 

HELEN. You tremble, Troilus. 

TROILUS. Yes, I do. 

HELEN, why are you always just be- 
hind me? If I walk with my back to the 
sun and suddenly stop, the head of your 
shadow stubs itself against my feet. That 
doesn't matter, as long as it doesn't 
overshoot them. Tell me what you want. 

TROILUS. I don't want anything. 

HELEN. Tell me what you want, 
Troilus ! 

TROILUS. Everything! I want every- 
thing ! 

HELEN. You want everything. The 
moon? 

TROILUS. Everything! Everything and 
more! 

HELEN. You're beginning to talk like 
a real man already ; you want to kiss me ! 

TROILUS. No! 

HELEN. You want to kiss me, isn't that 
it, Troilus? 

TROILUS. I would kill myself directly 
afterwards ! 

HELEN. Come nearer. How old are 
you? 

TROILUS. Fifteen. Alas ! 

HELEN. Bravo that alas. Have you 
kissed girls of your own age ? 

TROILUS. I hate them. 

HELEN. But you have kissed them? 

TROILUS. Well, yes, you're bound to 
kiss them, you kiss them all. I would give 
my life not to have kissed any of them. 

HELEN. You seem prepared to get rid 
of quite a number of lives. Why haven't 
you said to me frankly: Helen, I want to 
kiss you! I don't see anything wrong in 
your kissing me. Kiss me. 



TROILUS. Never. 

HELEN. And then, when the day came 
to an end, you would have come quietly 
to where I was sitting on the battlements 
watching the sun go dowTi over the 
islands, and you would have turned my 
head towards you with your hands — from 
golden it would have become dark, only 
shadow now, you would hardly have been 
able to see me — and you would have kissed 
me, and I should have been very happy. 
Why this is Troilus, I should have said to 
myself: young Troilus is kissing me ! Kiss 
me. 

TROILUS. Never. 

HELEN. I see. You think, once you have 
kissed me, you would hate me? 

TROILUS. Oh! Older men have all the 
luck, knowing how to say what they 
want to ! 

HELEN. You say it well enough. 
(Enter Paris. J 

PARIS. Take care Helen, Troilus is a 
dangerous fellow. 

HELEN. On the contrary. He wants to 
kiss me. 

PARIS. Troilus, you know that if you 
kiss Helen, I shall kill you? 

HELEN. Dying means nothing to him; 
no matter how often. 

PARIS. What's the matter with him? 
Is he crouching to spring? Is he going to 
take a leap at you? He's too nice a boy. 
Kiss Helen, Troilus. I'll let you. 

HELEN. If you can make up his mind 
to it you're cleverer than I am. 
f Troilus who was about to hurl himself on 
Helen immediately draws back.) 

PARIS. Listen, Troilus! Here's a com- 
mittee of our revered elders coming to 
shut the Gates of War. Kiss Helen in front 
of them; it will make you famous. You 
want to be famous, don't you, later on 
in life? 

TROILUS. No. I want nobody to have 
heard of me. 

PARIS. You don't want to be famous? 
You don't want to be rich and powerful? 

TROILUS. No. Poor. Ugly. 

PARIS. Let me finish! So that you can 
have all the women you want. 

TROILUS. I don't want any, none at 
all, none. 

PARIS. Here come the senators! Now 



72 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



you can choose : either you kiss Helen in 
front of them, or I shall kiss her in front 
of you. Would you rather I did it? All 
right ! Look ! . . . Why, this Avas a new 
version of kiss you gave me, Helen. What 
w^as it? 

HELEN. The kiss I had ready for 
Troilus. 

PARIS. You don't know^ what you're 
missing, my boy! Are you leaving us? 
Goodbye, then. 

HELEN. We shall kiss one another, 
Troilus. I'll answer for that. 
(Troilus goes. J 
Troilus ! 

PARIS (slightly unnerved). You called 
very loudly, Helen. 
(Enter Demokos.J 

DEMOKOS. Helen, one moment! Look 
me full in the face. I've got here in my 
hand a magnificent bird which I'm going 
to set free. Are you looking? Here it is. 
Smooth back your hair, and smile a 
beautiful smile. 

PARIS. I don't see how the bird will 
fly any better if Helen smooths her hair 
and gives a beautiful smile. 

HELEN. It can't do me any harm, 
anyway. 

DEMOKOS. Don't move. One! Two! 
Three ! It's all over, you can go now. 

HELEN. Where was the bird? 

DEMOKOS. It's a bird who knows how 
to make himself invisible. 

HELEN. Ask him next time to tell you 
how he does it. 
(She goes.) 

PARIS. What is this nonsense? 

DEMOKOS. I am writing a song on the 
subject of Helen's face. I needed to look 
at it closely, to engrave it, smiling, on 
my memory. 

(Enter Hecuba, Polyxene, Ahneos, the Mathe- 
matician, and some old men.) 

HECUBA. Well, are you going to shut 
these Gates for us? 

DEMOKOS. Certainly not. We might 
well have to open them again this very 
evening. 

HECUBA. It is Hector's wish. And 
Hector will persuade Priam. 

DEMOKOS. That is as we shall see. And 
what's more I have a surprise in store for 
Hector. 



POLYXENE. Where do the Gates lead 
to, mama? 

ABNEOS. To war, my child. When they 
are open it means there is war. 

DEMOKOS. My friends . . . 

HECUBA. War or not, it's an absurd 
symbolism, your Gateway, and those two 
great doors always left open look very 
unsightly. All the dogs stop there. 

MATHEMATICIAN. This is no domestic 
matter. It concerns war and the Gods. 

HECUBA. Which is just as I said: the 
Gods never remember to shut their doors. 

POLYXENE. I remember to shut them 
very well, don't I, mama? 

PARIS. And you even include your 
fingers in them, don't you, my pretty 
one? 

DEMOKOS. May I ask for a moment of 
silence, Paris? Abneos, and you. Mathe- 
matician, and you, my friends : I asked 
you to meet here earlier than the time 
fixed for the ceremony so that we could 
hold our first council. And it promises 
well that this first council of war should 
be, not a council of generals, but a council 
of intellectuals. For it isn't enough in 
war-time to have our soldiers drilled, 
well-armed, and spectacular. It is abso- 
lutely necessary to bring their enthusiasm 
up to fever pitch. The physical intoxi- 
cation which their officers will get from 
them by a generous allowance of cheap 
wine supplied at the right moment, will 
still be ineffective against the Greeks, 
unless it is reinforced by the spiritual and 
moral intoxication >vhich the poets can 
pour into them. If we are too old to fight 
we can at least make sure that the fighting 
is savage. I see you have something to say 
on the subject, Abneos. 

ABNEOS. Yes. We must make a war- 
song. 

DEMOKOS. Very proper. A war requires 
a war-song. 

PARIS. We have done without one up 
to now. 

HECUBA. War itself sings quite loud 
enough. 

ABNEOS. We have done without one 
because up to now we were fighting only 
barbarians. It was nothing more than a 
hunt, and the hunting horn was all we 
needed. But now with the Greeks vv^e're 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



73 



entering a different region of war alto- 
gether. 

DEMOKOS. Exactly so, Abneos. The 
Greeks don't fight with everybody. 

PARIS. We already have a national 
anthem. 

ABNEOS. Yes. But it's a song of peace. 

PARIS. If you sing a song of peace with 
enough gestures and grimaces it becomes 
a war song. What are the words we have 
already ? 

ABNEOS. You know them perfectly 
well. There's no spirit in them: 
'We cut and bind the harvest, 
We tread the vineyard's blood.' 

DEMOKOS. At the very most it's a war- 
song against farm produce. You won't 
frighten the Spartans by threatening a 
wheatfield. 

PARIS. Sing it with a spear in your 
hand, and a dead body at your feet, you 
will be surprised. 

HECUBA. It includes the word 'blood', 
there's always that. 

PARIS. The word 'harvest' as well. 
War rather approves of the word 'harvest' . 

ABNEOS. Why discuss it, when Demo- 
kos can invent an entirely new one in a 
couple of hours. 

DEMOKOS. A couple of hours is rather 
short. 

HECUBA. Don't be afraid; it's more 
than you need for it. And after the song 
will come the hymn, and after the hymn 
the cantata. As soon as war is declared it 
will be impossible to hold the poets back. 
Rhyme is still the most effective drum. 

DEMOKOS. And the most useful, 
Hecuba; you don't know how wisely you 
speak. I know war. As long as war isn't 
with us, and the Gates are shut, each of 
us is free to insult it and execrate it as we 
will. But once war comes, its pride and 
autocracy is huge. You can gain its good- 
will only by flattery and adoration. So the 
mission of those who understand how 
to speak and write is to compliment and 
praise war ceaselessly and indiscrimi- 
nately, otherwise we shut ourselves out 
from his favour. 

PARIS. Have you got an idea for your 
song already? 

DEMOKOS. A marvellous idea, which 
no one will understand better than you. 



War must be tired of the mask we always 
give it, of Medusa's venomous hair and 
a Gorgon's lips. I have had the notion to 
compare War's face with Helen's. It will 
be enchanted by the comparison. 

POLYXENE. What does War look like, 
mama? 

HECUBA. Like your Aunt Helen. 

POLYXENE. She is very pretty. 

DEMOKOS. Then the discussion is 
closed. You can expect the war-song. 
Why are you looking w^orried. Mathe- 
matician ? 

MATHEMATICIAN. Becausc there are 
other things far more urgent than this 
war-song, far more urgent! 

DEMOKOS. You think we should discuss 
the question of medals, false information, 
atrocity stories, and so on? 

MATHEMATICIAN. I think wc should 
discuss the insulting epithets. 

HECUBA. The insulting epithets? 

MATHEMATICIAN. Before they hurl 
their spears the Greek fighting-men hurl 
insults. You third cousin of a toad, they 
yell ! You son of a sow ! — They insult 
each other, like that! And they have a 
good reason for it. They know that the 
body is more vulnerable when self-respect 
has fled. Soldiers famous for their com- 
posure lose it immediately when they're 
treated as warts or maggots. We Trojans 
suffer from a grave shortage of insults. 

DEMOKOS. The Mathematician is quite 
right. We are the only race in the world 
which doesn't insult its enemies before it 
kills them. 

PARIS. You don't think it's enough that 
the civilians insult the enemy civilians ? 

MATHEMATICIAN. The armies have to 
show the same hatred the civilians do. 
You know what dissemblers armies can 
be in this way. Leave them to themselves 
and they spend their time admiring each 
other. Their front lines very soon be- 
come the only ranks of real brotherhood 
in the world. So naturally, when the 
theatre of war is so full of mutual con- 
sideration, hatred is driven back on to 
the schools, the salons, the tradespeople. 
If our soldiers aren't at least equal to the 
Greeks in the fury of their epithets, they 
will lose all taste for insults and calumny, 



74 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



and as a natural consequence all taste for 
war. 

DEMOKOS. Suggestion adopted! We 
will organize a cursing parade this evening. 

PARIS. I should have thought they're 
big enough to find their own curses. 

DEMOKOS. What a mistake! Could 
you, adroit as you are, find your own 
effective curses? 

PARIS. I believe so. 

DEMOKOS. You fool yoursclf. Come 
and stand face to face with Abneos and 
begin. 

PARIS. Why Abneos? 

DEMOKOS. Because he lends himself to 
this sort of thing, with his corpulence and 
one thing and another. 

ABNEOS. Come on, then, speak up, you 
piece of pie-crust ! 

PARIS. No, Abneos doesn't inspire me. 
I'll start with you, if you don't mind. 

DEMOKOS. With me? Certainly. You 
can let fly at ten paces. There we are. 
Begin. 

HECUBA. Take a good look at him. You 
will be inspired. 

PARIS. You old parasite! You filthy- 
footed iambic pentameter! 

DEMOKOS. Just one second. To avoid 
any mistake you had better say who it is 
you're addressing. 

PARIS. You're quite right! Demokos ! 
Bloodshot bullock's eye! You fungus- 
ridden plum-tree ! 

DEMOKOS. Grammatically reasonable, 
but very naive. What is there in a fungus- 
ridden plum-tree to make me rise up 
foaming at the lips ? 

HECUBA. He also called you a bloodshot 
bullock's eye. 

DEMOKOS. Bloodshot bullock's eye is 
better. But you see how you flounder, 
Paris? Search for something that can 
strike home to me. What are my faults, 
in your opinion? 

PARIS. You are cowardly; your breath 
smells, and you have no talent. 

DEMOKOS. You're asking for trouble ! 

PARIS. I was trying to please you. 

POLYXENE. why are we scolding Uncle 
Demokos, mama? 

HECUBA. Because he is a cuckoo, 
dearest ! 

DEMOKOS. What did you say, Hecuba? 



HECUBA. I was saying that you're a 
cuckoo, Demokos. If cuckoos had the 
absurdity, the affectation, the ugliness and 
the stench of vultures, you would be a 
cuckoo. 

DEMOKOS. Wait a bit, Paris! Your 
mother is better at this than you are. 
Model yourselves on her. One hour's 
exercise each day for each soldier, and 
Hecuba has given us the superiority in 
insults which we badly need. As for the 
war-song, I'm not sure it wouldn't be 
wiser to entrust that to her as well. 

HECUBA. If you like. But if so, I 
shouldn't say that war looks like Helen. 

DEMOKOS. What would you say it 
looks like, in your opinion? 

HECUBA. I will tell you when the Gates 
have been shut. 

(Enter Priam, Hector, Andromache, and 
presently Helen. During the closing of the 
Gates, Andromache takes little Polyxene aside 
and whispers a secret or an errand to her. J 

HECTOR. As they nearly are. 

DEMOKOS. One moment. Hector! 

HECTOR. Aren't we ready to begin the 
ceremony? 

HECUBA. Surely ? The hinges are swim- 
ming in oil. 

HECTOR. Well, then. 

PRIAM. What our friends want you to 
understand. Hector, is that war is ready, 
too. Consider carefully. They're not mis- 
taken. If you shut these Gates, in a minute 
we may have to open them again. 

HECUBA. Even one minute of peace is 
worth taking. 

HECTOR. Father, you should know 
what peace means to men who have been 
fighting for months. It's like solid ground 
to someone who was drowning or sinking 
in the quicksands. Do let us get our feet 
on to a few inches of peace, touch it, if 
only with the tips of our toes. 

PRIAM. Hector: consider: inflicting 
the word peace on to the city today is as 
ruthless as though you gave it poison. 
You will take her off her guard, under- 
mine her iron determination, debase, 
with the word peace, the accepted values 
of memory, affection, and hope. The sol- 
diers will rush to buy the bread of peace, 
to drink the wine of peace, to hold in 
their arms the woman of peace, and in an 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



75 



hour you will put them back to face a war. 

HECTOR. The war will never take 
place ! 
fThe sound of clamour near the Gates.) 

DEMOKOS. No? Listen! 

HECTOR. Shut the Gates. This is where 
we shall meet the Greeks. Conversation 
will be bitter enough as it is. We must 
receive them in peace. 

PRIAM. My son, are we even sure we 
should let the Greeks disembark? 

HECTOR. Disembark they shall. This 
meeting with Ulysses is our last chance 
of peace. 

DEMOKOS. Disembark they shall not. 
Our honour is at stake. We shall be the 
laughing-stock of the whole world. 

HECTOR. And you're taking it upon 
yourself to recommend to the Senate an 
action which would certainly mean war? 

DEMOKOS. Upon myself? No, not at 
all. Will you come forward now, Busiris. 
This is where your mission begins. 

HECTOR. Who is this stranger? 

DEMOKOS. He is the greatest living 
expert on the rights of nations. It's a 
lucky chance he should be passing through 
Troy today. You can't say that he's a 
biased witness. He is neutral. Our 
Senate is willing to abide by his decision, 
a decision which all other nations will 
agree with tomorrow. 

HECTOR. And what is your opinion? 

BUSIRIS. My opinion. Princes, based 
on my own observation and further 
enquiry, is that the Greeks, in relation to 
Troy, are guilty of three breaches of inter- 
national law. If you give them permission 
to disembark you will have sacrificed 
your position as the aggrieved party, and 
so lost the universal sympathy which 
would certainly have been yours in the 
conflict to follow. 

HECTOR. Explain yourself. 

BUSIRIS. Firstly, they have hoisted their 
flag hatchway and not masthead. A ship 
of war, my dear Princes and colleagues, 
hoists its flag hatchway only when reply- 
ing to a salute from a boat carrying cattle. 
Clearly, then, so to salute a city and a 
city's population is an insult. As it hap- 
pens, we have a precedent. Last year the 
Greeks hoisted their flag hatchway when 
they were entering the port of Orphea. 



The reply was incisive. Orphea declared 



w^ar. 



HECTOR. And what happened? 

BUSIRIS. Orphea was beaten. Orphea 
no longer exists, nor the Orpheans either. 

HECUBA. Perfect. 

BUSIRIS. But the annihilation of a 
people doesn't alter in the least their 
superior moral position. 

HECTOR. Go on. 

BUSIRIS. Secondly, on entering your 
territorial waters the Greeks adopted the 
formation known as frontal. At the last 
congress there was some talk of including 
this formation in the paragraph of meas- 
ures called defensive-aggressive. I was 
very happy to be able to get it restored 
under its proper heading of aggressive- 
defensive : so without doubt it is now 
one of the subtle forms of naval manoeuvre 
which is a disguised form of blockade : 
that is to say, it constitutes a fault of the 
first degree ! We have a precedent for 
this, as well. Five years ago the Greek 
navy adopted the frontal formation when 
they anchored outside Magnesia. Magnesia 
at once declared w^ar. 

HECTOR. Did they win it? 

BUSIRIS. They lost it. There's not one 
stone of Magnesia still standing on another. 
But my redraft of the paragraph is still 
standing. 

HECUBA. I congratulate you. We were 
beginning to be anxious. 

HECTOR. Go on. 

BUSIRIS. The third fault is not so 
serious. One of the Greek triremes has 
crept close in to shore without permission. 
Its captain, Ajax, the most unruly and 
impossible man among the Greeks, is 
climbing up towards the city, shouting 
scandal and provocation, and swearing 
he would like to kill Paris. But this is a 
very minor matter, from the international 
point of view ; because it isn't, in any way, 
a formal breach of the law. 

DEMOKOS. You have your information. 
The situation can only be resolved in one 
of two ways. To sw^allow an outrage, or 
return it. Choose. 

HECTOR. Oneah, go and find Ajax. 
Head him off in this direction. 

PARIS. I'm waiting here for him. 

HECTOR. You will be good enough to 



76 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



stay in the palace until I call for you. As 
for you, Busiris, you must understand that 
our city has no intention of being insulted 
by the Greeks. 

BUSIRIS. I am not suprised. Troy's 
incorruptible pride is a legend all the 
world over. 

HECTOR. You are going to provide me, 
here and now^, w^ith an argument w^hich 
w^ill allows our Senate to say that there has 
been no fault w^hatever on the part of our 
visitors, and w^ith our pride untouched 
w^e welcome them here as our guests. 

DEMOKOS. What nonsense is this? 

BUSIRIS. It isn't in keeping with the 
facts, Hector. 

HECTOR. My dear Busiris, all of us here 
know there's no better way of exercising 
the imagination than the study of law. No 
poet ever interpreted nature as freely as 
a lawyer interprets truth. 

BUSIRIS. The Senate asked me for an 
opinion : I gave it. 

HECTOR. And I ask you for an inter- 
pretation. An even subtler point of law. 

BUSIRIS. It goes against my conscience. 

HECTOR. Your conscience has seen 
Orphea destroyed. Magnesia destroyed: 
is it now contemplating, just as light- 
heartedly, the destruction of Troy? 

HECUBA. Yes. He comes from Syracuse. 

HECTOR. 1 do beg of you, Busiris. The 
lives two countries depend on this. Help 
us. 

BUSIRIS. Truth is the only help I can 
give you. 

HECTOR. Precisely. Discover a truth 
which saves us. What is the use of justice 
if it doesn't hammer out a shield for 
innocent people? Forge us a truth. If you 
can't, there is one thing I can tell you, 
quite simply: we shall hold you here for 
as long as the war goes on. 

BUSIRIS. What are you saying? 

DEMOKOS. You're abusing your posi- 
tion. Hector! 

HECUBA. During war we imprison the 
rights of man. There seems no reason 
why we shouldn't imprison a lawyer. 

HECTOR. I mean what I say, Busiris. 
I've never failed yet to keep my promises, 
or my threats. And now either these 
guards are going to take you off to prison 
for a year or two, or else you leave here. 



this evening, heaped with gold. With this 
in mind, you can dispassionately examine 
the evidence once again. 

BUSIRIS. Actually there are certain 
mitigating arguments. 

HECTOR. I was sure there were, 

BUSIRIS. In the case of the first fault, 
for instance, when the cattle-boat salute 
is given in certain seas where the shores 
are fertile, it could be interpreted as a 
salute from the sailors to the farmers. 

HECTOR. That would be, in fact, the 
logical interpretation. The salute of the 
sea to the earth. 

BUSIRIS. Not to mention that the cargo 
of cattle might easily be a cargo of bulls. 
In that case the homage would verge on 
flattery. 

HECTOR. There you are. You've 
understood w^hat I meant. We've arrived 
at our point of view. 

BUSIRIS. And as to the frontal forma- 
tion, that could as easily mean a promise 
as a provocation. Women vs^anting chil- 
dren give themselves not from the side 
but face to face. 

HECTOR. Decisive argument. 

BUSIRIS. Then, again, the Greek ships 
have huge carved nymphs for figureheads. 
A woman who comes towards you naked 
and open-armed is not a threat but an 
off^er. An offer to talk, at any rate. 

HECTOR. So there we have our honour 
safe and sound, Demokos. The next step 
is to make this consulation with Busiris 
public. Meanwhile, Minos, tell the port 
authorities to let Ulysses disembark with- 
out any loss of time. 

DEMOKOS. It's no use even trying to 
discuss honour with these fighting men. 
They trade on the fact that you can't treat 
them as cowards. 

MATHEMATICIAN. At any rate. Hector, 
deliver the Oration for the Dead. That 
will make you think again. 

HECTOR. There's not going to be an 
Oration for the Dead. 

PRIAM. But it's a part of the ceremony. 
The victorious general must always speak 
in honour of the dead when the Gates are 
closed. 

HECTOR. An Oration for the Dead of a 
war is a hypocritical speech in defence of 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



77 



the living, a plea for acquittal. I am not 
so sure of my innocence. 

DEMOKOS. The High Command is not 
responsible. 

HECTOR. Alas, no one is : nor the Gods 
either. Besides, I have given my oration 
for the dead already. I gave it to them in 
their last minute of life, w^hen they v^ere 
lying on the battlefield, on a little slope of 
olive-trees, while they could still attend 
me with what was left of their sight and 
hearing. I can tell you what I said to them. 
There was one, disembowelled, already 
turning up the whites of his eyes, and 
I said to him : 'It's not so bad, you know, 
it's not so bad; you will do all right, old 
man. ' And one with his skull split in two ; 
I said : 'You look pretty comical with that 
broken nose. ' And my little equerry, with 
his left arm hanging useless and his last 
blood flowing out of him; and I said, 'It's 
a good thing for you it's the left arm 
you've splintered. ' I am happy I gave them 
one final swig of life ; it was all they asked 
for; they died drinking it. And there's 
nothing else to be said. Shut the Gates. 

POLYXENE. Did the little equerry die, 
as well? 

HECTOR. Yes, puss-cat. He died. He 
stretched out his right arm. Someone I 
couldn't see took him by his perfect 
hand. And then he died. 

DEMOKOS. Our general seems to con- 
fuse remarks made to the dying with the 
Oration for the Dead. 

PRIAM. Why must you be so stubborn, 
Hector? 

HECTOR. Very well: you shall have 
the Oration. (He takes a position below the 
gates) — You who cannot hear us, who 
cannot see us, listen to these words, look 
at those who come to honour you. We 
have won the war. I know that's of no 
moment to you. You are the victors, too. 
But we are victorious, and still live. That's 
where the difference is between iis and 
why I'm ashamed. I don't know whether, 
among the crowd of the dead, any privi- 
lege is given to men vv^ho died victorious. 
But the living, whether victorious or not, 
have privilege enough. We have our eyes. 
We see the sun. We do what all men do 
under the sun. We eat. We drink. By the 



moon, we sleep with our wives. And with 
yours, now you have gone. 

DEMOKOS. You insult the dead! 

HECTOR. Do you think so? 

DEMOKOS. Either the dead or the 
living. 

HECTOR. There is a distinction. 

PRIAM. Come to the peroration. Hec- 
tor. The Greeks are coming ashore. 

HECTOR. I will come to it now . . . 
Breathe in this incense, touch these 
offerings, you who can neither smell nor 
touch. And understand, since I speak to 
you sincerely, I haven't an equal tender- 
ness and respect for all of you. Though all 
of you are the dead, with you as with us 
who survive there are men of courage and 
men of fear, and you can't make me 
confuse, for the sake of a ceremony, the 
dead I admire with those I can't admire. 
But what I have to say to you today is that 
war seems to me the most sordid, hypo- 
critical way of making all men equal : and 
I accept death neither as a punishment or 
expiation for the coward, nor as a reward 
to the living. So, whatever you may be, 
absent, forgotten, purposeless, unresting, 
without existence, one thing is certain 
when we close these Gates : we must ask 
you to forgive us, we, the deserters who 
survive you, who feel we have stolen two 
great privileges, I hope the sound of their 
names will never reach you : the warmth 
of the living body, and the sky. 

POLYXENE. The gates are shutting, 
mama! 

HECUBA. Yes, darling. 

POLYXENE. The dead men are pushing 
them shut. 

HECUBA. They help, a little. 

POLYXENE. They're helping quite a 
lot, especially over on the right. 

HECTOR. Is it done? Are they shut? 

GUARD. Tight as a clam. 

HECTOR. We're at peace, father, we're 
at peace. 

HECUBA. We're at peace! 

POLYXENE. It feels much better, 
doesn't it, mama? 

HECTOR. Indeed it does. 

POLYXENE. I feel much better, anyway. 
(The sound of the Greeks^ music.) 

A MESSENGER. The Greeks have landed, 
Priam ! 



78 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



DEMOKOS. What music! What fright- 
ful music ! It's the most anti-Trojan music 
there could possible be ! Let's go and give 
them a welcome to match it. 

HECTOR. Receive them royally, bring 
them here safely. You are responsible. 

MATHEMATICIAN. At any rate we ought 
to counter with some Trojan music. 
Hector, if we can't be indignant any other 
way, you can authorize a battle of music. 

CROWD. The Greeks ! The Greeks ! 

MESSENGER. Ulysses is on the landing- 
stage, Priam. Where are we to take him? 

PRIAM. Conduct him here. Send word 
to us in the palace when he comes. Keep 
with us, Paris. We don't want you too 
much in evidence just yet. 

HECTOR. Let's go and prepare what 
we shall say to the Greeks, father. 

DEMOKOS. You'd better prepare it 
somewhat better than your speech for the 
dead; you're likely to meet more contra- 
diction. 

(Exeunt Priam and his sons.) 
If you are going with them, tell us before 
you go, Hecuba, what it is you think war 
looks like. 

HECUBA. You insist on knowing? 

DEMOKOS. If you've seen what it looks 
like, tell us. 

HECUBA. Like the bottom of a baboon. 
When the baboon is up in a tree, with its 
hind end facing us, there is the face of war 
exactly : scarlet, scaley, glazed, framed in 
a clotted, filthy wig. 

DEMOKOS. So he has two faces: this 
you describe, and Helen s. (Exit) 

ANDROMACHE. Here is Helen now. 
Polyxene, you remember what you have 
to say to her? 

POLYXENE. Yes. 

ANDROMACHE. Go to her, then, 
(Enter Helen.) 

HELEN. Do you want to talk to me, 
darl 



me feel terrible when you stand there like 
a little stick. 

POLYXENE. Aunt Helen, if you love 
anyone, please go away. 

HELEN. Why should I go away, darling ? 

POLYXENE. Because of the war. 

HELEN. Do you know about war 
already, then? 

POLYXENE. I don't exactly know about 
it. I think it means we have to die. 

HELEN. And do you know what dying 
is? 

POLYXENE. I don't exactly. I think it 
means we don't feel anything any more. 

HELEN. What exactly was it that 
Andromache told you to ask me? 

POLYXENE. If you lovc US at all, please 
to go away. 

HELEN. That doesn't seem to me very 
logical. If you loved someone you wouldn't 
leave them? 

POLYXENE. Oh, no! Never! 

HELEN, which would you rather do: 
go right away from Hecuba, or never feel 
anything any more? 

POLYXENE. Oh, never feel anything! 
I would rather stay, and never feel anything 
any more. 

HELEN. You see how badly you put 
things to me. If I'm to leave you, I 
mustn't love you. Would you rather I 



didn't love 



you 



POLYXENE. Oh, no ! I want you to love 



me. 



in 



POLYXENE. Yes, Aunt Helen. 

HELEN. It must be important, you're 
so very tense. 

POLYXENE. Yes, Aunt Helen. 

HELEN. Is it something you can't tell 
me without standing so stiffly? 

POLYXENE. No, Aunt Helen. 

HELEN. Do tell me, then; you make 



HELEN. In other words, you didn't 
know what you were saying, did you? 

POLYXENE. No. 

HECUBA (offstage). Polyxene! 
(Enter Hecuba.) 

Are you deaf, Polyxene? Why did you 
shut your eyes when you saw me? Are 
you playing at being a statue? Come 
with me. 

HELEN. She is teaching herself not to 
feel anything. But she has no gift for it. 

HECUBA. Can you hear me, Polyxene? 
And see me? 

POLYXENE. Yes, I can hear you. I can 
see you, too. 

HECUBA. Why are you crying? Don't 
you like to see and hear me? 

POLYXENE. If I do, you will go away. 

HECUBA. I think it would be better, 
Helen, if you left Polyxene alone. She 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



79 



is too sensitive to touch the insensitive, 
even through your beautiful dress and 
your beautiful voice. 

HELEN. I quite agree with you. I 
advise Andromache to carry her own 
messages. Kiss me, Polyxene. I shall go 
away this evening, since that is what you 
would like. 

POLYXENE. Don't go! Don't go! 

HELEN. Bravo ! You are quite loosened 
up again! 

HECUBA. Are you coming with us, 
Andromache ? 

ANDROMACHE. No : I shall wait here. 
(Exeunt Hecuba and Polyxene.) 

HELEN. You want an explanation? 

ANDROMACHE. I believe it's necessary. 

HELEN . Listen to the way they ' re shout- 
ing and arguing down below. Isn't that 
enough ? Do you and I have to have expla- 
nations, since I'm leaving here anyw^ay? 

ANDROMACHE. Whether you go or 
stay isn't any longer the problem. 

HELEN. Tell Hector that. You will 
make his day easier. 

ANDROMACHE. Ycs, Hector is obsessed 
by the thought of getting you away. All 
men are the same. They take no notice 
of the stag in the thicket because they're 
already chasing the hare. Perhaps men can 
hunt like that. But not the gods. 

HELEN. If you have discovered what 
the gods are after in this affair, I congratu- 
late you. 

ANDROMACHE. I don't know that the 
gods are after anything. But there is 
something the universe is after. Ever 
since this morning, it seems to me, 
everything has begged and cried out for 
it, men, animals, even the leaves on the 
trees and my own child, not yet born. 

HELEN. Cried out for what? 

ANDROMACHE. That you should love 
Paris. 

HELEN. If they know so certainly that 
I don't love Paris, they are better informed 
than I am. 

ANDROMACHE. But you don't love 
him! You could love him, perhaps. But, 
at present, you are both living in a mis- 
understanding. 

HELEN. I live with him happily, amica- 
bly, in complete agreement. We under- 
stand each other so well, I don't really 



see how this can be called a misunder- 
standing. 

ANDROMACHE. Agreement is never 
reached in love. The life of a wife and 
husband who love each other is never at 
rest. Whether the marriage is true or 
false, the marriage portion is the same: 
elemental discord. Hector is my absolute 
opposite. He shares none of my tastes. We 
pass our days either getting the better of 
one another, or sacrificing ourselves. 
There is no tranquillity for lovers. 

HELEN. And if I went pale whenever I 
saw Paris : and my eyes filled with tears, 
and the palms of my hands were moist, 
you think Menelaus would be delighted, 
and the Greeks pleased and quite satisfied? 

ANDROMACHE. It wouldn't much mat- 
ter then what the Greeks tought. 

HELEN. And the war would never 
happen ? 

ANDROMACHE. Perhaps, indeed, it 
would never happen. Perhaps if you loved 
him, love would call to the rescue one 
of its own equals : generosity or intelli- 
gence. No one, not even destiny itself, 
attacks devotion lightheartedly. And even 
if the war did happen, why, I think even 
then 

HELEN. Then it wouldn't be the same 
war, I suppose. 

ANDROMACHE. Oh, no, Helen! You 
know what this struggle is going to be. 
Fate would never take so many precau- 
tions for an ordinary quarrel. It means to 
build the future on this war, the future of 
our countries and our peoples, and our 
ways of thinking. It won't be so bad if 
our thoughts and our future are built on 
the story of a man and a woman who truly 
love each other. But fate hasn't noticed 
yet that you are lo'vers only on paper, 
officially. To think that we're going to 
suffer and die only for a pair of theoretical 
lovers : and the splendour and calamity 
of the age to come will be founded on a 
trivial adventure between two people who 
don't love each other — that's what is so 
horrible. 

HELEN. If everybody thinks that we 
love each other, it comes to the same 
thing. 

ANDROMACHE. They don't think so. 
But no one will admit that he doesn't. 



8o 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



Everyone, when there's war in the air, 
learns to live in a new element : falsehood. 
Everybody lies. Our old men don't wor- 
ship beauty: they worship themselves, 
they worship ugliness. And this indig- 
nation the Greeks are showing us is a lie. 
God knows, they're amused enough at 
what you can do with Paris ! Their boats, 
in the bay, with their patriotic anthems 
and their streamers flying, are a falsehood 
of the sea. And Hector's life and my son's 
life, too, are going to be played out in 
hypocrisy and pretence. 

HELEN. So? 

ANDROMACHE. I beg of you, Helen. 
You see how I'm pressed against you as 
though I were begging you to love me. 
Love Paris ! Or tell me that I'm mistaken ! 
Tell me that you would kill yourself if 
Paris were to die ! Tell me that you would 
even let yourself be disfigured if it would 
keep him alive. Then the war will only 
be a scourge, not an injustice. 

HELEN. You are being very difficult. 
I don't think my way of loving is as bad as 
all that. Certainly I don't get upset and 
ill when Paris leaves me to play bowls or 
go fishing for eels. But I do feel commanded 
by him, magnetically attracted. Magnet- 
ism is a kind of love, as much as devotion. 
And it's an old and fruitful passion in its 
own way, as desperate devotion and pas- 
sionate weeping are in theirs. I'm as con- 
tent in this love as a star in a constellation. 
It's my own centre of gravity; I shine 
there ; it's the way I breathe, and the way 
I take life in my arms. And it's easy to see 
w^hat sons this love can produce: tall, 
clear-cut boys, of great distinction, with 
fine fingers and short noses. What will it 
all become if I fill it with jealousy, with 
emotion, and anxiety? The world is 
nervous enough already : look at yourself! 

ANDROMACHE. Fill it with pity, Helen. 
That's the only help the world needs. 

HELEN. There we are ; I knew it would 
come ; the word has been said. 

ANDROMACHE. What word? 

HELEN. The word 'pity'. You must 
talk to someone else. I'm afraid I'm not 
very good at pity. 

ANDROMACHE. Bccause you don't know 
unhappiness. 

HELEN. Maybe. It could also be that I 



think of unhappy people as my equals, I 
accept them, and I don't think of my 
health and my position and beauty as any 
better than their misery. It's a sense of 
brotherhood I have. 

ANDROMACHE. You're blaspheming, 
Helen. 

HELEN. I am sure people pity others 
to the same extent that they would pity 
themselves. Unhappiness and ugliness are 
mirrors they can't bear to look into. I 
haven't any pity for myself. You will see, 
if war breaks out. I'll put up with hunger 
and pain better than you will. And insults, 
too. Do you think I don't hear what the 
Trojan women say when I'm going past 
them? They treat me like a slut. They say 
that the morning light shows me up for 
what they think me. It may be true, or it 
may not be. It doesn't matter to me, one 
way or the other. 

ANDROMACHE. Stop, Helen! 

HELEN. And of course I can see, in 
what your husband called the coloured 
picture-book in my head, pictures of 
Helen grown old, flabby, toothless, sitting 
hunched-upinthe kitchen, sucking sweets. 
I can see the vs^hite enamel I've plastered 
over my wrinkles, and the bright colours 
the sweets are, very clearly. But it leaves 
me completely indifferent. 

ANDROMACHE. I am lost. 

HELEN. Why? If you're content with 
one perfect couple to make the war 
acceptable, there is always you and Hec- 
tor, Andromache. 
(Enter Ajax^ then Hector. J 

A J AX. Where is he? Where's he hiding 
himself? A coward! A typical Trojan! 

HECTOR. Who are you looking for? 

A J AX. I'm looking for Paris. 

HECTOR. I am his brother. 

AjAX. Beautiful family! I am Ajax! 
What's your name? 

HECTOR. My name's Hector. 

AJAX. It ought to be pimp ! 

HECTOR. I see that Greece has sent over 
her diplomats. What do you want? 

AJAX. War. 

HECTOR. Not a hope. Why do you 
want it? 

AJAX. Your brother carried off Helen. 

HECTOR. I am told she was willing. 

AJAX. A Greek woman can do what 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



8i 



she likes. She doesn't have to ask per- 
mission from you. He carried her off. It's 
a reason for war. 

HECTOR. We can offer our apologies. 

AjAX. What's a Trojan apology? We're 
not leaving here w^ithout your declaration 
of w^ar. 

HECTOR. Declare it yourselves. 

AJAX. All right, w^e w^ill. As from this 
evening. 

HECTOR. That's a lie. You w^on't 
declare vs^ar. There isn't an island in the 
archipelego that will back you if we 
aren't in any way responsible. And we 
don't intend to be. 

AJAX. Will you declare it yourself, 
personally, if I call you a coward? 

HECTOR. That is a name I accept. 

AJAX. I've never known such un- 
military reaction ! Suppose I tell you 
what the people of Greece thinks of 
Troy, that Troy is a cess-pit of vice and 
stupidity? 

HECTOR. Troy is obstinate. You won't 
get your war. 

AJAX. Suppose I spit on her? 

HECTOR. Spit. 

AJAX. Suppose I strike you, you, one 
of her princes? 

HECTOR. Try it. 

AJAX. Suppose I slap your face, you 
disgusting example of Troy's conceit and 
her spurious honour? 

HECTOR. Strike. 

AJAX (striking him). There. If this 
lady's your wife she must be proud of you. 

HECTOR. I know her. She is proud. 
(Enter Demokos.J 

DEMOKOS. What's all the noise about? 
What does this drunkard want. Hector? 

HECTOR. He has got what he wants. 

DEMOKOS. What is going on, Andro- 
mache ? 

ANDROMACHE. Nothing. 

AJAX. Two times nothing. A Greek hits 
Hector, and Hector puts up with it. 

DEMOKOS. Is this true. Hector? 

HECTOR. Completely false, isn't it, 
Helen? 

HELEN. The Greeks are great liars. 
Greek men, I mean. 

AJAX. Is it natural for him to have one 
cheek redder than the other? 



HECTOR. Yes. I am healthier on that 
side. 

DEMOKOS. Tell the truth, Hector. Has 
he dared to raise his hand against you? 

HECTOR. That is my concern. 

DEMOKOS. It's the concern of war. 
You are the figurehead of Troy. 

HECTOR. Exactly. No one is going to 
slap a figurehead. 

DEMOKOS. Who are you, you brute? 
I am Demokos, second son of Achichaos ! 

AJAX. The second son of Achichaos? 
How do you do ? Tell me : is it as serious 
to slap a second son of Achichaos as to 
strike Hector? 

DEMOKOS. Quite as serious, you drunk. 
I am the head of the Senate. If you want 
war, war to the death, you have only 
to try. 

AJAX. All right. I'll try. (He slaps 
Demokos) 

DEMOKOS. Trojans! Soldiers! To the 
rescue ! 

HECTOR. Be quiet, Demokos ! 

DEMOKOS. To arms ! Troy's been in- 
sulted ! Vengeance ! 

HECTOR. Be quiet, I tell you. 

DEMOKOS. I will shout! I'll rouse the 
city! 

HECTOR. Be quiet! If you won't, I 
shall hit you, too ! 

DEMOKOS. Priam! Anchises ! Come 
and see the shame of Troy burning on 
Hector's face ! 

(Hector strikes Demokos. Ajax laughs. During 
the scenCj Priam and his lords group them- 
selves ready to receive Ulysses.) 

PRIAM. What are you shouting for, 
Demokos ? 

DEMOKOS. I have been struck. 

AJAX. Go and complain to Achichaos ! 

PRIAM. Who struck you? 

DEMOKOS. Hector! Ajax! Ajax! Hec- 
tor! 

PARIS. What is he talking about? He's 
mad! 

HECTOR. Nobody struck him, did they, 
Helen? 

HELEN. I was watching most carefully, 
and I didn't notice anything. 

AJAX. Both his cheeks are the same 
colour. 

PARIS. Poets often get upset for no 
reason. It's what they call their inspiration. 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



We shall get a new national anthem out 
of it. 

DEMOKOS. You will pay for this, 
Hector. 

VOICES. Ulysses! Here is Ulysses! 
(Ajax goes amicably to Hector.) 

AjAX. Well done. Plenty of pluck. 
Noble adversary. A beautiful hit. 

HECTOR. I did my best. 

AJAX. Excellent method, too. Straight 
elbow. The w^rist on an angle. Safe 
position for the carpus and metacarpus. 
Your slap must be stronger than mine is. 

HECTOR. I doubt it. 

AJAX. You must be able to throw a 
javelin magnificently with this iron fore- 
arm and this shoulder-bone for a pivot. 

HECTOR. Eighty yards. 

AJAX. My deepest respect! My dear 
Hector, forgive me. I withdraw my threats, 
I take back my slap. We have enemies in 
common, in the sons of Achichaos. I 
won't fight vs^ith anybody w^ho shares 
with me an enmity for the sons of 
Achichaos. Not another mention of war. 
I don't know what Ulysses has got in mind, 
but count on me to arrange the whole 
thing. 

(He goes towards Ulysses and comes hack with 
him.) 

ANDROMACHE. I lovC yOU, HectOT. 

HECTOR (showing his cheek) . Yes ; but 
don't kiss me just yet. 

ANDROMACHE. You havc won this 
round, as well. Be confident. 

HECTOR. I win every round. But still 
with each victory the prize escapes me. 

ULYSSES. Priam and Hector? 

PRIAM. Yes. And behind us, Troy, and 
the suburbs of Troy, and the land of Troy, 
and the Hellespont. 

ULYSSES. I am Ulysses. 

PRIAM. This is Anchises. 

ULYSSES. There are many people here 
for a diplomatic conversation. 

PRIAM. And here is Helen. 

ULYSSES. Good morning, my queen. 

HELEN. I've grown younger here, 
Ulysses. I've become a princess again. 

PRIAM. We are ready to listen to you. 

AJAX. Ulysses, you speak to Priam. I 
will speak to Hector. 

ULYSSES. Priam, we have come to take 
Helen home again. 



AJAX. You do understand, don't you, 
Hector? We can't have things happening 
like this. 

ULYSSES. Greece and Menelaus cry out 
for vengeance. 

AJAX. If deceived husbands can't cry 
out for vengeance, what can they do? 

ULYSSES. Deliver Helen over to us 
within an hour. Otherwise it means war. 

HECTOR. But if we give Helen back to 
you give us your assurance there will be 
peace. 

AJAX. Utter tranquillity. 

HECTOR. If she goes on board within 
an hour, the matter is closed. 

AJAX. And all is forgotten. 

HECTOR. I think there's no doubt we 
can come to an understanding, can we 
not, Helen? 

HELEN. Yes, no doubt. 

ULYSSES. You don't mean to say that 
Helen is being given back to us? 

HECTOR. Exactly that. She is ready. 

AJAX. What about her baggage? She is 
sure to have more to take back than when 
she came. 

HECTOR. We return her to you, bag 
and baggage, and you guarantee peace. 
No reprisals, no vengeance ! 

AJAX. A woman is lost, a woman is 
found, and we're back where we Avere. 
Perfect! Isn't it, Ulysses? 

ULYSSES. Just w^ait a moment. I guar- 
antee nothing. Before we say there are 
going to be no reprisals we have to be 
sure there has been no cause for reprisals. 
We have to make sure that Menelaus will 
find Helen exactly as she was when she 
was taken from him. 

HECTOR. How is he going to discover 
any difference? 

ULYSSES. A husband is very perceptive 
when a world-wide scandal has put him 
on his guard. Paris will have had to have 
respected Helen. And if that isn't so . . . 

CROWD. Oh, no! It isn't so! 

ONE VOICE. Not exactly! 

HECTOR. And if it is so? 

ULYSSES, where is this leading us, 
Hector? 

HECTOR. Paris has not touched Helen. 
They have both taken me into their con- 
fidence. 

ULYSSES. What is this absurd story? 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



83 



HECTOR. The true story, isn't it, 
Helen? 

HELEN. Why does it seem to you so 
extraordinary? 

A VOICE. It's terrible ! It puts us to 
shame ! 

HECTOR. Why do you have to smile, 
Ulysses? Do you see the slightest indica- 
tion in Helen that she has failed in her 
duty? 

ULYSSES. I'm not looking for one. 
Water leaves less mark on a duck's back 
than dishonour does on a woman. 

PARIS. You're speaking to a queen. 

ULYSSES. Present queens excepted, 
naturally. So, Paris, you have carried off 
this queen, carried her off naked; and I 
imagine that you didn't go into the water 
wearing all your armour; and yet you 
weren't seized by any taste or desire for 
her? 

PARIS. A naked queen is dressed in her 
dignity. 

HELEN. She has only to remember to 
keep it on. 

ULYSSES. How long did the voyage last? 
I took three days w^ith my ships, which 
are faster than yours. 

VOICES. What are these intolerable 
insults to the Trojan navy? 

A VOICE. Your winds are faster! Not 
your ships ! 

ULYSSES. Let us say three days, if you 
like. Where was the queen during those 
three days? 

PARIS. Lying down on the deck. 

ULYSSES. And Paris was where? In the 
crow's nest? 

HELEN. Lying beside me. 

ULYSSES. Was he reading as he lay 
beside you? Or fishing for goldfish? 

HELEN. Sometimes he fanned me. 

ULYSSES. Without ever touching you? 

HELEN. One day, the second day, I 
think it was, he kissed my hand. 

ULYSSES. Your hand ! I see. An outbreak 
of the animal in him. 

HELEN. I thought it was more dignified 
to take no notice. 

ULYSSES. The rolling of the ship didn't 
throw you towards each other? I don't 
think it's an insult to the Trojan navy to 
suggest that its ships roll? 



A VOICE. They roll much less than the 
Greek ships pitch! 

AjAX. Pitch? Our Greek ships? If they 
seem to be pitching it's because of their 
high prows and their scooped-out stems ! 

A VOICE. Oh, yes ! The arrogant face 
and the flat behind, that's Greek all right. 

ULYSSES. And what about the three 
nights you were sailing? The stars ap- 
peared and vanished again three times over 
the pair of you. Do you remember 
nothing of those three nights? 

HELEN. I don't know. Oh, yes! I'd 
forgotten. I learnt a lot more about the 
stars. 

ULYSSES. While you were asleep, per- 
haps, he might have taken you . . . 

HELEN. A mosquito can wake me. 

HECTOR. They w^ill both swear to you, 
if you like, by our goddess Aphrodite. 

ULYSSES. We can do without that. I 
know what Aphrodite is. Her favourite 
oath is a perjury. — It's a curious story 
you're telling me; and it will certainly 
destroy the idea that the rest of the 
Archipelego has always had of the 
Trojans. 

PARIS. Why, what do they think of us 
in the Archipelego? 

ULYSSES. You're thought of as less 
accomplished at trading than we are, but 
handsome and irresistible. Go on with 
your story, Paris. It's an interesting con- 
tribution to the study of human behaviour. 
What good reason could you have possibly 
had for respecting Helen when you had 
her at your mercy? 

PARIS. I ... I loved her. 

HELEN. If you don't know what love is, 
Ulysses, I shouldn't venture on the 
subject. 

ULYSSES. You must admit, Helen, you 
would never have followed him if you 
had known the Trojans were impotent. 

VOICES. Shame! Muzzle him! Bring 
your women here, and you'll soon see ! 
And your grandmother ! 

ULYSSES. I expressed myself badly. I 
meant that Paris, the handsome Paris, is 
impotent. 

A VOICE. Why don't you say something, 
Paris? Are you going to make us the 
laughing-stock of the world ? 



84 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



PARIS. Hector, you can see, this is a 
most unpleasant situation for me ! 

HECTOR. You have to put up with it 
only a few minutes longer. Goodbye, 
Helen. And I hope your virtue will be- 
come as proverbial as your frailty might 
have done. 

HELEN. That doesn't worry me. The 
centuries always give us the recognition 
we deserve. 

ULYSSES. Paris the impotent, that's a 
very good surname ! If you care to, Helen, 
you can kiss him for once. 

PARIS. Hector! 

FIRST TOPMAN. Are you going to 
tolerate this farce, commander? 

HECTOR. Be quiet! I am in charge 
here ! 

TOPMAN. And a rotten job you make 
of it! We've stood quite enough. We'll 
tell you, we, Paris 's own seamen, we'll 
tell you what he did with your queen ! 

VOICES. Bravo ! Tell him ! 

TOPMAN. He's sacrificing himself on 
his brother's orders. I was an officer on 
board his ship. I saw everything. 

HECTOR. You were quite wrong. 

TOPMAN. Do you think a Trojan sailor 
doesn't know what he sees? I can tell the 
sex of a seagull thirty yards off. Come 
over here, Olpides, Olpides was up in the 
crow's nest. He saw everything from on 
top. I was standing on the stairs in the 
hatchway. My head was exactly on a level 
with them, like a cat on the end of a bed. 
Shall I tell him, Trojans? 

HECTOR. Silence ! 

VOICES. Tell him ! Go on and tell him ! 

TOPMAN. And they hadn't been on 
board more than two minutes, wasn't that 
true, Olpides? 

OLPIDES. Only time enough for the 
queen to dry herself, being just come up 
out of the water, and to comb the parting 
into her hair again. I could see her parting, 
from her forehead over to the nape of her 
neck, from where I was. 

TOPMAN. And he sent us all down into 
the hold, except the two of us who he 
couldn't see. 

OLPIDES. And without a pilot, the ship 
drifted due north. There was no wind, 
and yet the sails were bellied out full. 

TOPMAN. And when I looked out from 



where I was hiding, what I should have 
seen was the outline of one body, but 
what I did see was in the shape of two, 
like a wheaten loaf and rye bread, baking 
in the oven together. 

OLPIDES. But from up where I was, 
I more often saw one body than two, but 
sometimes it was white, and sometimes it 
was golden brown. 

TOPMAN. So much for impotence! 
And as for respectful, inexpressive love, 
and unspoken affection, you tell him, 
Olpides, what you heard from your ledge 
up there ! Women's voices carry upwards, 
men's voice stay on the ground, I shall 
tell you w^hat Paris said. 

OLPIDES. She called him her ladybird, 
her little ewe-lamb. 

TOPMAN. And he called her his lion, 
his panther. They reversed the sexes. 
Because they were being so affectionate. 
It's not unusual. 

OLPIDES. .And then she said: 'You are 
my darling oak-tree, I put my arms round 
you as if you were an oak-tree.' When 
you're at sea you think about trees, I 
suppose. 

TOPMAN. And he called her his birch- 
tree : 'My trembling silver birch-tree!' I 
remember the word birch-tree very well. 
It's a Russian tree. 

OLPIDES. And I had to stay up in the 
crow's nest all night. You don't half get 
thirsty up there, and hungry, and every- 
thing else. 

TOPMAN. And when at last they got up 
from the deck to go to bed they swayed 
on their feet. And that's how your wife 
Penelope would have got on with Trojan 
impotence. 

VOICES. Bravo! Bravo! 

A woman's voice. All praise to Paris. 

A JOVIAL MAN. Render to Paris what 
belongs to Paris ! 

HECTOR. This is a pack of lies, isn't it, 
Helen? 

ULYSSES. Helen is listening enraptured. 

HELEN. I forgot they were talking 
about me. They sound so wonderfully 
convincing. 

ULYSSES. Do you dare to say they are 
lying, Paris? 

PARIS. In some of the particulars, yes, 
I think they are. 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



^5 



TOPMAN. We're not lying, either in 
the general or the particular. Are we, 
Olpides? Do you deny the expressions of 
love you used? Do you deny the word 
panther ? 

PARIS. Not especially the word panther. 

TOPMAN. Well, birch-tree, then? I 
see. It's the phrase 'trembling silver 
birch-tree' that embarrasses you. Well, 
like it or not, you used it. I swear you 
used it, and anyway what is there to blush 
about in the word 'birch-tree' ? I have 
seen these silver birch-trees trembling 
against the snow in wintertime, by the 
shores of the Caspian, with their rings of 
black bark apparently separated by rings 
of space, so that you wondered what was 
carrying the branches. And I've seen them 
at the height of summer, beside the canal 
at Astrakhan, with their white rings like 
fresh mushrooms. And the leaves talked 
and made signs to me. To see them 
quivering, gold above and silver under- 
neath, it makes your heart melt ! I could 
have wept like a woman, isn't that true, 
Olpides? That's how I feel about the 
birch-tree. 

CROWD. Bravo ! Bravo ! 

ANOTHER SAILOR. And it wasn't only 
the topman and Olpides who saw them, 
Priam. The crew came wriggling up 
through the hatches and peering under 
the handrails. The whole ship was one 
great spy-glass. 

THIRD SAILOR. Spying out love. 

ULYSSES. There you have. it. Hector! 
^HECTOR. Be quiet, the lot of you. 

TOPMAN. Well, keep this quiet, if you 
can! 
(Iris appears in the sky.) 

PEOPLE. Iris ! Iris ! 

PARIS. Has Aphrodite sent you? 

IRIS. Yes, Aphrodite sent me, and told 
me that I should say to you that love is the 
world's chief law. Whatever strengthens 
love becomes in itself sacred, even false- 
hood, avarice, or luxury. She takes all 
lovers under her protection, from the 
king to the goat-herd. And she forbids 

♦Omitted from the Broadway production, but 
used in the stage version at the Apollo Theatre in 
London. At this point in the Broadway production 
Hector requested the populace to leave Ulysses and 
him alone together. 



both of you, Hector and Ulysses, to 
separate Paris from Helen. Or else there 
will be war. 

PARIS AND THE OLD MEN. Thank you. 
Iris. 

HECTOR. Is there any message from 
Pallas Athene? 

IRIS. Yes; Pallas Athene told me that 
I should say to you that reason is the chief 
law of the w^orld. All vv^ho are lovers, she 
w^ishes me to say, are out of their minds. 
She would like you to tell her quite 
frankly what is more ridiculous than the 
mating of cooks with hens or flies. And 
she orders both of you. Hector, and 
Ulysses, to separate Helen from this Paris 
of the curly hair. Or else there will be 
war. 

HECTOR AND THE WOMEN. Thank you. 
Iris! 

PRIAM. Oh, my son, it isn't Aphrodite 
nor Pallas Athene who rules the world. 
What is it Zeus commands us to do in this 
time of uncertainty ? 

IRIS. Zeus, the master of the Gods, 
told me that I should say to you that those 
who see in the world nothing but love 
are as foolish as those who cannot see it at 
all. It is wise, Zeus, master of the Gods 
informs you, it is wise sometimes to make 
love, and at other times not to make love. 
The decision he gives to Hector and 
Ulysses, is to separate Helen and Paris 
without separating them. He orders all 
the rest of you to go away and leave the 
negotiators to face each other. And let 
them so arrange matters that there will 
be no war. Or else — he swears to you: 
he swears there will be war. 
(Exit IrisJ^ 

HECTOR. At your service, Ulysses ! 

ULYSSES. At your service. 
(All withdraw. A great rainbow is seen in 
the sky.) 

HELEN. How very like Iris to leave her 
scarf behind. 

HECTOR. Now we come to the real 
tussle, Ulysses. 

ULYSSES. Yes : out of which either war 
or peace is going to come. 

HECTOR. Will war come of it? 

ULYSSES. We shall know in five min- 
utes time. 



86 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



HECTOR. If it's to be a battle of words, 
my chances are small. 

ULYSSES. I believe it will be more a 
battle of weight. It's as though we were 
one on each side of a pair of scales. How 
we weigh in the balance will be what 
counts in the end. 

HECTOR. How we weigh in the 
balance? And what is my weight, Ulysses? 
My weight is a young man, a young woman, 
an unborn child. Joy of life, belief in life, 
a response to whatever's natural and good. 

ULYSSES. And my weight is the mature 
man, the wife thirty-five years old, the son 
whose height I measure each month with 
notches against the doorpost of the palace. 
My weight is the pleasures of living, and a 
mistrust of life. 

HECTOR. Hunting, courage, loyalty, 
love. 

ULYSSES. Circumspection in the pres- 
ence of the gods, of men, and everything 
else. 

HECTOR. The Phrygian oak-tree, all 
the leafy, thick-set oak-trees that grow 
on our hills with our curly-coated oxen. 

ULYSSES. The power and wisdom of the 
olive-tree. 

HECTOR. I weigh the hawk, I look 
straight into the sun. 

ULYSSES. I weigh the owl. 

HECTOR. I weigh the whole race of 
humble peasants, hard-working craftsmen, 
thousands of ploughs and looms, forges 
and anvils . . . Why is it, when I put all 
these in the scale in front of you, all at 
once they seem to me to weigh so light? 

ULYSSES. I am the weight of this incor- 
ruptible, unpitying air of these coasts and 
islands. 

HECTOR. Why go on? The scales have 
tipped. 

ULYSSES. To my side? Yes, I think so. 

HECTOR. And you want war? 

ULYSSES. I don't want it. But I'm less 
sure whether war may not want us. 

HECTOR. Our peoples have brought 
us together to prevent it. Our meeting 
itself shows that there is still some hope. 

ULYSSES. You are young. Hector! It's 
usual on the eve of every war, for the two 
leaders of the peoples concerned to meet 
privately at some innocent village, on a 
terrace in a garden overlooking a lake. 



And they decide together that war is the 
world's worst scourge, and as they watch 
the rippling reflections in the water, with 
magnolia petals dropping on to their 
shoulders, they are both of them peace- 
loving, modest and friendly. They study 
one another. They look into each other's 
eyes. And, warmed by the sun and mel- 
lowed by the claret, they can't find 
anything in the other man's face to justify 
hatred, nothing, indeed, which doesn't 
inspire human affection, nothing incom- 
patible in their languages any more, or in 
their particular way of stratching the nose 
or drinking wine. They really are 
exuding peace, and the world's desire for 
peace. And when their meeting is over, 
they shake hands in a most sincere 
brotherly fashion, and turn to smile and 
wave as they drive away. And the next 
day war breaks out. And so it is with us 
both at this moment. Our peoples, who 
have drawn aside, saying nothing while 
we have this interview, are not expecting 
us to win a victory over the inevitable. 
They have merely given us full powers, 
isolated here together, to stand above the 
catastrophe and taste the essential brother- 
hood of enemies. Taste it. It's a rare dish. 
Savour it. But that is all. One of the 
privileges of the great is to witness 
catastrophes from a terrace. 

HECTOR. Do you think this is a con- 
versation between enemies we are having ? 

ULYSSES. I should say a duet before the 
full orchestra. Because we have been 
created sensible and courteous, we can 
talk to each other, an hour or so before 
the war, in the way we shall talk to each 
other long after it's over, like old antago- 
nists. We are merely having our recon- 
ciliation before the struggle instead of 
after it. That may be unwise. If one day 
one of us should have to kill the other, it 
might be as well if it wasn't a friend's face 
we recognized as the body dropped to the 
ground. But, as the universe well knows, 
we are going to fight each other. 

HECTOR. The universe might be mis- 
taken. One way to recognize error is the 
fact that it's universal. 

ULYSSES. Let's hope so. But when 
destiny has brought up two nations, as 
for years it has brought up yours and mine, 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



87 



to a future of similar invention and 
authority, and given to each a different 
scale of values (as you and I saw^ just novs^, 
vv^hen w^e w^eighed pleasure against pleas- 
ure, conscience against conscience, even 
nature itself against nature): vs^hen the 
nation's architects and poets and painters 
have created for them opposing kingdoms 
of sound, and form, and subtlety, w^hen we 
have a Trojan tile roof, a Theban arch, 
Phrygian red, Greek blue : the universe 
knows that destiny wasn't preparing 
alternative ways for civilization to flower. 
It was contriving the dance of death, let- 
ting loose the brutality and human folly 
which is all that the gods are really 
contented by. It's a mean vv^ay to contrive 
things, I agree. But we are Heads of State, 
you and I; we can say this between 
ourselves : it is Destiny's way of contriving 
things, inevitably. 

HECTOR. And this time it has chosen 
to match Greece with Troy? 

ULYSSES. This morning I was still in 
doubt. As soon as 1 stepped on to your 
landing stage I was certain of it. 

HECTOR. You mean you felt yourself on 
enemy soil ? 

ULYSSES. Why will you always harp on 
the word enemy? Bom enemies don't 
fight. Nations you would say were de- 
signed to go to war against each other — by 
their skins, their language, their smell: 
always jealous of each other, always hating 
each other — they're not the ones who 
fight. You will find the real antagonists in 
nations fate has groomed and made ready 
for the same war. 

HECTOR. And you think we have been 
made ready for the Greek war? 

ULYSSES. To an astonishing extent. Just 
as nature, when she foresees a struggle 
between two kinds of insects, equips them 
with weaknesses and weapons w^hich cor- 
respond, so we, living well apart, un- 
known to ourselves, not even suspecting 
it, have both been gradually raised up to 
the level vv^here war begins. All our 
weapons and habits correspond with each 
other and balance against each other like 
the beams of a gable. No other women 
in the world excite less brutality in us, or 
less desire, than your wives and daughters 
do ; they give us a joy and an anguish of 



heart which is a sure sign of impending 
war between us. Doom has transfigured 
everything here with the colour of storm : 
your grave buildings shaking with shadow 
and fire, the neighing horses, figures dis- 
appearing into the dark of a colonnade : 
the future has never impressed me before 
with such startling clarity. There is noth- 
ing to be done. You're already living in the 
light of the Greek war. 

HECTOR. And do the rest of the Greeks 
think this? 

ULYSSES. What they think is no more 
reassuring. The rest of the Greeks think 
Troy is wealthy, her warehouses bulging, 
her soil prolific. They think that they, on 
the other hand, are living cramped on a 
rock. And your golden temples and golden 
wheatfields flashed from your promon- 
tories a signal our ships will never forget. 
It isn't very wise to have such golden gods 
and vegetables. 

HECTOR. This is more like the truth, 
at last. Greece has chosen Troy for her 
prey. Then why a declaration of war? It 
would have been simpler to have taken 
Troy by surprise when I was away with 
the army. You would have had her without 
striking a blow. 

ULYSSES. There's a kind of permission 
for war which can be given only by the 
world's mood and atmosphere, the feel 
of its pulse. It would have been madness 
to undertake a war without that permis- 
sion. We didn't have it. 

HECTOR. But you have it now. 

ULYSSES. I think we do. 

HECTOR. But why against us? Troy is 
famous for her arts, her justice, her hu- 
manity. 

ULYSSES. A nation doesn't put itself at 
odds with its destiny by its crimes, but 
by its faults. Its army may be strong, its 
treasury well filled, its poets at the height 
of inspiration. But one day, why it is no 
one knows, because of some simple event, 
such as the citizens wantonly cutting down 
the trees, or their prince wickedly making 
off with a woman, or the children getting 
out of hand, the nation is suddenly lost. 
Nations, like men, die by imperceptible 
disorders. We recognize a doomed people 
by the way they sneeze or pare their nails. 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



There's no doubt you carried off Helen 
badly. 

HECTOR. What fairness of proportion 
can you see between the rape of one 
woman, and the possible destruction of a 
whole people, yours or mine, in war? 

ULYSSES. We are speaking of Helen. 
You and Paris have made a great mistake 
about Helen. I've knowoi her fifteen years, 
and watched her carefully. There's no 
doubt about it: she is one of the rare 
creatures destiny puts on the earth for its 
own personal use. They're apparently quite 
unimportant. It might be not even a person , 
but a small town, or a village : a little queen, 
or a child; but if you lay hands on them, 
watch out! It's very hard to know how 
to recognize one of these hostages of fate 
among all the other people and places. 
You haven't recognized it. You could 
have laid hands with impunity on our 
great admirals or one of our kings. Paris 
could have let himself go with perfect 
safety in a Spartan bed, or a Theban bed, 
with generous returns twenty times over ; 
but he chose the shallowest brain, the 
hardest heart, the narrowest understanding 
of sex. And so you are lost. 

HECTOR. We are giving Helen back 
to you. 

ULYSSES. The insult to destiny can't 
be taken back. 

HECTOR. What are we discussing, 
then? I'm beginning to see what is really 
behind your words. Admit it. You want 
our wealth! You had Helen carried off 
to give you an honourable pretext for 
war! I blush for Greece. She will be 
responsible and ashamed for the rest of 
time. 

ULYSSES. Responsible and ashamed? 
Do you think so? The two words hardly 
agree. Even if we believed we were 
responsible for the war, all our generation 
would have to do would be to deny it, and 
lie, to appease the conscience of future 
generations. And we shall lie. We'll make 
that sacrifice. 

HECTOR. Ah, well, the die is cast, 
Ulysses. On with the war! The more I 
hate it, the more I find growing in me an 
irresistible need to kill. If you won't help 
me, it were better you should leave here. 

ULYSSES. Understand me. Hector; you 



have my help. Don't ask me to interpret 
fate. All I have tried to do is to read the 
world's hand, in the great lines of desert 
caravans, the wake of ships, and the track 
of migrant birds and wandering peoples. 
Give me your hand. There are lines there, 
too. We won't search to see if their lesson 
tells the same story. We'll suppose that 
these three little lines at the base of Hec- 
tor's hand contradict the waves, the 
wings, and the furrows. I am inquisitive 
by nature, and not easily frightened. I'm 
quite willing to join issue with fate. I 
accept your offer of Helen. I w^ill take her 
back to Menelaus. I've more than enough 
eloquence to convince a husband of his 
wife's virtue. I will even persuade Helen 
to believe it herself. And I'll leave at once, 
to avoid any chance of disturbance. Once 
back on my ship perhaps we can take the 
risk of running war on to the rocks. 

HECTOR. Is this part of Ulysses' cun- 
ning, or his greatness? 

ULYSSES. In this particular instance, 
I'm using my cunning against destiny, 
not against you. It's my fit-st attempt, so I 
deserve some credit for it. I am sincere. 
Hector. If I wanted war, I should have 
asked for a ransom more precious to you 
than Helen. I am going now. But I can't 
shake off the feeling that the road from 
here to my ship is a long way. 

HECTOR. My guard will escort you. 

ULYSSES . As long as the road of a visiting 
king, when he knows there has been a 
threat against his life. Where are the 
assassins hiding? We're lucky if it's not 
in the heavens themselves. And the dis- 
tance from here to the comer of the 
palace is a long way. A long way, taking 
this first step. Where is it going to carry 
me among all these perils ? Am I going to 
slip and kill myself? Will part of the 
cornice fall down on me? It's all new 
stonework here ; at any moment a stone 
may be dislodged. But courage. Let us go. 
(^He takes a first step) 

HECTOR. Thank you, Ulysses. 

ULYSSES. The first step is safely over. 
How many more? 

HECTOR. Four hundred and sixty. 

ULYSSES. Now the second! You know 
what made me decide to go. Hector? 

HECTOR. Yes. Your noble nature. 



TIGER AT THE GATES 



89 



ULYSSES. Not precisely. Andromache's 
eyelashes dance as my wife Penelope's do. 
(Enter Andromache and Cassandra. J 

HECTOR. Were you there all the time, 
Andromache ? 

ANDROMACHE. Let me take your arm. 
I've no more strength. 

HECTOR. Did you hear what we said? 

ANDROMACHE. Yes. I am broken. 

HECTOR. You see, we needn't despair. 

ANDROMACHE. We needn't despair 
for ourselves, perhaps. But for the world, 
yes. That man is terrible. All the un- 
happiness of the world is in me. 

HECTOR. A moment or two more, and 
Ulysses will be on board. You see how 
fast he is travelling. You can follow his 
progress from here. There he is, on a 
level with the fountains. What are you 
doing? 

ANDROMACHE. I haven't the strength 
any longer to hear any more. I am covering 
up my ears. I won't take my hands away 
until we know what our fate is to be, 

HECTOR. Find Helen, Cassandra! 
(Ajax enter Sy more drunk than ever. He sees 
Andromache. Her hack is towards him. J 

CASSANDRA. Ulysses is waiting for you 
down at the harbour, Ajax. Helen will 
be brought to you there. 

AJAX. Helen ! To hell with Helen ! This 
is the one I want to get my arms around. 

CASSANDRA. Go away, Ajax. That is 
Hector's wife. 

AJAX. Hector's wife! Bravo! I've al- 
ways liked my friends' wives, my best 
friends' wives! 

CASSANDRE. Ulysscs is already half-way 
there. Hurry. 

AJAX. Dont' worry, my dear. She's 
got her hands over her ears . I can say what 
I like, she can't hear me. If I touched her, 
now, if I kissed her, certainly ! But words 
she can't hear, what's the matter with 
that? 

CASSANDRA. Everything is the matter 
with that. Go away, Ajax! 
(AjaXy while Cassandra tries to force him away 
from Andromache and Hector^ slowly raises 
his javelin.) 

AJAX. Do you think so? Then I might 
as well touch her. Might as well kiss her. 
But chastely, always chastely, with your 
best friends' wives ! What's the most 



chaste part of your wife. Hector, her 
neck? So much for her neck. Her ear has 
a pretty little look of chastity to me. So 
much for her ear. I'll tell you what I've 
always found the chastest thing about a 
woman . . . Let me alone, now; let me 
alone ! She can't even hear when I kiss 
her . . . You're so cursed strong ! All 
right, I'm going, I said I was going. 
Goodbye. 

(He goes. Hector imperceptibly lowers his 
javelin. At this moment Demokos hursts in.) 
DEMOKOS. what's this cowardice? 
You're giving Helen back? Trojans, to 
arms! They've betrayed us. Fall in! And 
your war-song is ready! Listen to your 
war-song ! 

HECTOR (striking him). Have that for 
your war-song ! 

DEMOKOS (falling) . He has killed me ! 
HECTOR. The war isn't going to hap- 
pen, Andromache! 

(He tries to take Andromache^ s hands from her 
ears: she resists, her eyesjixed on Demokos. The 
curtain which had begun to fall is lifted little 
by little.) 

ABNEOS. They have killed Demokos ! 
Who killed Demokos? 

DEMOKOS. Who killed me? Ajax! Kill 
him! 

ABNEOS. Kill Ajax! 
HECTOR. He's lying. I am the man who 
struck him. 

DEMOKOS. No. It was Ajax. 
ABNEOS. Ajax has killed Demokos. 
Catch him ! Punish him ! 

HECTOR. I struck you, Demokos, 
admit it! Admit it, or I'll put an end 
to you ! 

DEMOKOS. No, my dear Hector, my 
good dear Hector. It was Ajax. Kill Ajax! 
CASSANDRA. He is dying, just as he 
lived, croaking like a frog. 

ABNEOS. There. They have taken Ajax. 
There. They have killed him! 

HECTOR (drawing Andromache^ s hands 
away from her ears) . The war will happen. 
(The Gates of War slowly open, to show Helen 
kissing Troilus.) 

CASSANDRA. The Trojan poet is dead. 
And now the Grecian poet will have his 
word. 

THE CURTAIN FINALLY FALLS 



JEAN ANOUILH's 



The Lark 



In the adaptation by Lillian Hellman 



First presented by Kermit Bloomgarden at the Longacre Theatre, New York, on 
November 17, 195^5^, with the following cast: 



WARWICK Christopher Plummer 

CAUCHON Boris Karloff 

JOAN Julie Harris 

Joan's father Ward Costello 

joan's mother Lois Holmes 

joan's brother John Reese 

THE PROMOTOR Roger De Koven 

the inquisitor Joseph Wiseman 

BROTHER LADVENU Michael Higgins 

ROBERT DE BEAUDRicouRT Theoclore Bikel 

AGNES SOREL Ann Hillary 

THE LITTLE QUEEN Joan Elan 

THE DAUPHIN Paul Roebling 



QUEEN YOLANDE Rita Vale 

MONSIEUR DE LA TREMOUILLE BrUCC Gordon 

ARCHBISHOP OF REIMS Richard Nicholls 

CAPTAIN LA HIRE Bruce Gordon 

EXECUTIONER Ralph Roberts 

ENGLISH SOLDIER Edward Knight 

SCRIBE Joe Bernard 

LADIES OF THE COURT: Ruth Maynard, Elizabeth 

Lawrence 
MONKS and soldiers: Michael Price, Joe Bernard, 

Michael Conrad, William Lennard, Milton 

Katselas, Edward Grower 



Directed by Joseph Anthony 

Light-Setting by Jo Mielziner 

Costumes by Alvin Colt 

Music composed by Leonard Bernstein 



© 19^^, 19^6, by Lillian Hellman 

All rights, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form, are reserved under Inter- 
national and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in New York by Random House, Inc. and 
simultaneously in Toronto, Canada, by Random House of Canada, Limited. 

Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc. 



CAUTION : Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that The Lark, being fully protected under the 
Copyright Laws of the United States of America, the British Empire, including the Dominion of Canada, 
and all other countries of the Copyright Union, is subject to royalty. All rights, including professional, 
amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, and the 
rights of translation into foreign languages are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid on the question 
of readings, permission for which must be secured from the author's agent in writing. All inquiries should 
beaddressedto the author's agent, Music Corporation of America, 598 Madison Avenue, New York 22, N.Y. 



THE LARK 
ACT ONE 



91 



The music for the play was composed hy 
Leonard Bernstein. It was sung and recorded 
hy a group of seven men and women, without 
instruments, and with solos hj a countertenor. 

Before the curtain rises we hear the music 
of a psalm: the chorus is singing ^^Exaudi 
orationem meam, domine.'' When the curtain 
rises the music changes to a motet on the words 
''Qui toUis,'' from the Mass. 

THE Scene : Another day in the trial of 
Joan. The stage is a series of platforms, 
different in size and in height. The cyclorama 
is gray in color and projections will be thrown 
on it to indicate a change of scene. At this 
moment we see the bars of a jail as they are 
projected on the cyclorama. 

AT RISE: Joan is sitting on a stool . Cauchon 
is standing downstage near the Promoter. The 
Priests are about to take their places on the 
Judges^ bench. The Inquisitor sits quietly on a 
stool near the Judges. Joan s family stand 
upstage; the royal family stand in a group. 
Village Women cross the stage carrying bundles 
of faggots and English Soldiers and Guards 
move into place. Beaudricourt and La Hire 
appear and take their places upstage. Warwick 
enters and moves through the crowd. 



WARWICK. Everybody here ? Good. Let 
the trial begin at once. The quicker the 
judgment and the burning, the better for 
all of us. 

CAUCHON. No, sire. The whole story 
must be played. Domremy, the Voices, 
Chinon — 

WARWICK. 1 am not here to watch that 
children's story of the warrior virgin, 
strong and tender, dressed in white armor, 
white standard streaming in the wind. If 
they have time to waste, they can make 
the statues that way, in days to come. 
Different politics may well require 
different symbols. We might even have to 
make her a monument in London . Don ' t be 
shocked at that, sire. The politics of my 
government may well require it one day, 
and what's required. Englishmen supply. 
That's our secret, sire, and a very good 
one, indeed. (Moves downstage to address 
the audience) Well, let's worry about only 
this minute of titrie. I am Beauchamp, Earl 



of Warwick. I have a dirty virgin witch 
girl tucked away on a litter of straw in the 
depths of a prison here in Rouen. The girl 
has been an expensive nuisance. Your 
Duke of Burgundy sold her high. You like 
money in France, Monseigneur, all of you. 
That's the French secret, sire, and a very 
good one, indeed. (^He moves toward Joan) 
And here she is. The Maid. The famous 
Joan the Maid. Obviously, we paid too 
much. So put her on trial, and bum her, 
and be finished. 

CAUCHON. No, sire. She must play out 
her whole life first. It's a short life. It 
won't take very long. 

WARWICK (moves to a stool near Cauchon) . 
If you insist. Englishmen are patient, and 
for the purposes of this trial I am all 
Englishmen. But certainly you don't 
intend to amuse yourselves by acting out 
all the old battles ? I would find that very 
disagreeable. Nobody wishes to remember 
defeat. 

CAUCHON. No, sire. We no longer 
have enough men to act out the old 
battles. (Turns toward Joan) Joan? (Joan 
turns to Cauchon) You may begin. 

JOAN. Can I begin any place I want to ? 
CAUCHON. Yes. 

JOAN. Then I'll start at the beginning. 
It's always nicer at the beginning. I'll 
begin with my father's house when I was 
very small. (Her Mother, her Father and her 
Brothers appear on stage. She runs to join 
them) I live here happy enough with my 
mother, my brothers, my father. (We 
hear the music of a shepherd song and as she 
leaves the family group she dances her way 
downstage, clapping her hands to the music) 
I'm in the meadow now, watching my 
sheep. I am not thinking of anything. It 
is the first time I hear the Voices. I wasn't 
thinking of anything. I know only that 
God is good and that He keeps me pure 
and safe in this little corner of the earth 
near Domremy. This one little piece of 
French earth that has not yet been 
destroyed by the English invaders. (She 
makes childish thrusts with an imaginary 
sword, and stops suddenly as if someone has 
pulled her back) Then, suddenly, someone 
behind me touched my shoulder. I know 



92 



JEAN ANOUILH 



very well that no one is behind me. I turn 
and there is a great blinding light in the 
shadow of me. The Voice is grave and 
sweet and I was frightened. But I didn't 
tell anybody. 1 don't know why. Then 
came the second time. It was the noon 
Angelus. A light came over the sun and 
was stronger than the sun. There he was. 
1 saw him. An angel in a beautiful clean 
robe that must have been ironed by 
somebody very careful. He had two great 
white wings. He didn't tell me his name 
that day, but later I found out he was 
Monseigneur the Blessed Saint Michael. 

WARWICK (to Cauchon) . We know all 
this. Is it necessary to let her go over that 
nonsense again? 

CAUCHON. It is necessary, sire. 

JOAN. Blessed Saint Michael, excuse 
me, but you are in the wrong village. I 
am Joan, an ignorant girl, my father's 
daughter — (Pauses^ listens) I can't save 
France. I don't even know how to ride 
a horse. (Smiles) To you people the Sire 
de Beaudricourt is only a country squire, 
but to us he is master here. He would 
never take me to the Dauphin, I've never 
even bowed to him — (Turns to the court) 
Then the Blessed Saint Michael said Saint 
Catherine would come along with me, 
and if that wasn't enough Saint Marguerite 
would go, too. (She turns back as if to 
listen to Saint Michael) But when the army 
captains lose a battle — and they lose a 
great many — they can go to sleep at night. 
I could never send men to their death. 
Forgive me, Blessed Saint Michael, but I 
must go home now — (But she doesnt move. 
She is held hack bj a command) Oh, Blessed 
Saint Michael, have pity on me. Have pity, 
Messire. (The chorus sings ''''Alleluia^ 
Alleluia^ ^ to the shepherd^ s tune. She listens, 
smiles, move back into the trial. Simply) 
Well, he didn't. And that was the day I 
was saddled with France. And my work 
on the farm. 

(The Father who has been moving about near 
The Mother, suddenly g row's angry.) 

THE FATHER. What's she up to? 

THE MOTHER. She's in the fields. 

THE FATHER. So was I, in the fields, but 
I've come in. It's six o'clock! I ask you, 
what's she up to? 



THE BROTHER. She's dreaming under 
the lady tree. 

THE FATHER. What's anybody doing 
under a tree at this hour? 

THE BROTHER. You ask her. She stares 
straight ahead. She looks as if she is waiting 
for something. It isn't the first time. 

THE FATHER (angrily to the Brother). 
Why didn't you tell me? She is waiting 
for someone, not something. She has a 
lover. 

THE MOTHER ( sojtly ) . Joan is as clean 
as a baby. 

THE FATHER. All girls are as clean as 
babies until that night when they aren't 
any more. I'll find her and if she is with 
someone, I'll beat her until — 

JOAN. I was with someone, but my 
lover had two great white wings and 
through the rain he came so close to me 
that I thought I could touch his wings. He 
was very worried that day, he told me so. 
He said the Kingdom of France was in 
great misery and that God said I could 
wait no longer. There has been a mistake, 
I kept saying. The Blessed Saint Michael 
asked me if God made mistakes. You 
understand that I couldn't very well say 
yes? 

THE PROMOTOR. Why didn't you make 
the Sign of the Cross ? 

JOAN. That question is not written in 
your charge against me. 

THE PROMOTER. Why didn't you say to 
the archangel, "Fa Jo retro Satanas?^^ 

JOAN. I don't know any Latin, Messire. 
And that question is not written in your 
charge against me. 

THE PROMOTER. Don't act the fool. 
The devil understands French. You could 
have said, "Go away, you filthy, stinking 
devil." 

JOAN (angry) . I don't talk that way to 
the Blessed Saint Michael, Messire! i 

THE PROMOTER. The Devil told you he 1 
was Saint Michael and you were fool 
enough to believe him. 

JOAN. I believed him. He could not 
have been the Devil. He was so beautiful. 

THE PROMOTER. The Dcvil is beautiful ! 

JOAN (shocked). Oh, Messire! 

CAUCHON (to the Promoter). These 
theological subtleties are far above the 



THE LARK 



93 



understanding of this poor child. You 
shock her without reason. 

JOAN (to the Promoter). You've lied, 
Canon ! I am not as educated as you are, 
but 1 know the Devil is ugly and everything 
that is beautiful is the work of God. I 
have no doubts. I know. 

THE PROMOTER. You know nothing. 
Evil has a lovely face when a lovely face is 
needed. In real life the Devil waits for a 
soft, sweet night of summer. Then he 
comes on a gentle wind in the form of a 
beautiful girl with bare breasts — 

CAUCHON (sharply). Canon, let us not 
get mixed up in our private devils. 
Continue, Joan. 

JOAN (to the Promoter) . But if the Devil 
is beautiful, how can we know he is the 
Devil? 

THE PROMOTER. Go to your priest. He 
will tell you. 

JOAN. Can't I recognize him all by 
myself? 

THE PROMOTER. No. Certainly not. 
No. 

JOAN. But only the rich have their 
priests always with them. The poor can't 
be running back and forth. 

THE PROMOTER (angry). 1 do not like 
the way you speak in this court. I warn 
you again — 

CAUCHON. Enough, enough, Messire. 
Let her speak peacefully with her Voices. 
There is nothing to reproach her with 
so far. 

JOAN. Then another time it was Saint 
Marguerite and Saint Catherine who came 
to me. (She turns to the Promoter) And 
they, too, were beautiful. 

THE PROMOTER. Were they naked? 

JOAN (laughs). Oh, Messire! Don't 
you think our Lord can afford to buy 
clothing for His Saints? 

CAUCHON (to the Promoter) . You make 
us all smile, Messire, with your questions. 
You are confusing the girl with- the 
suggestion that good and evil is a question 
of what clothes are worn by what Angels 
and what Devils. (Turns to Joan) But it 
is not your place to correct the venerable 
Canon. You forget who you are and who 
we are. We are your priests, your 
masters, and your judges. Beware of your 
pride, Joan. 



JOAN (softly) . I know that I am proud. 
But I am a daughter of God. If He didn't 
want me to be proud, why did He send 
me His shining Archangel and His Saints 
all dressed in light? Why did He promise 
me that I should conquer all the men I 
have conquered? Why did He promise 
me a suit of beautiful white armor, the 
gift of my king ? And a sword ? And that 
I should lead brave soldiers into battle 
while riding a fine white horse ? If He had 
left me alone, I would never have become 
proud. 

CAUCHON. Take care of your words, 
Joan. You are accusing our Lord. 

JOAN (makes the Sign of the Cross). Oh. 
God forbid. 1 say only that His Will be 
done even if it means making me proud 
and then damning me for it. That, too, 
is His Right. 

THE PROMOTER (verj angry) . What are 
you saying? Could God wish to damn a 
human soul? How can you listen to her 
without shuddering, Messires? I see here 
the germ of a frightful heresy that could 
tear the Church — 

(The Inquisitor rises. The Promoter stops 
speaking. The stage is silent. Ladvenu, a 
young priest, rises and goes to The Inquisitor. 
The Inquisitor whispers to him. Ladvenu moves 
to Cauchon, whispers to him.) 

CAUCHON (looks toward The Inquisitor; 
very hesitant). Messire — (The Inquisitor 
stares at Cauchon. Cauchon hesitates^ then 
turns toward Joan) Joan, listen well to what 
I must ask you. At this moment, are you 
in a State of Grace ? 

LADVENU. Messire, this is a fearful 
question for a simple girl who sincerely 
believes that God has chosen her. Do not 
hold her answer against her. She is in 
great danger and she is confused. 

CAUCHON . Are you in a State of Grace ? 

JOAN (as if she knew this was a dangerous 
question). Which moment is that, 
Messire? Everything is so mixed up, I no 
longer know where I am. At the beginning 
when I heard my Voices, or at the end of 
the trial when I knew that my king and 
my friends had abandoned me? When I 
lost faith, when I recanted, or when, at 
the very last minute, I gave myself back 
to myself? When — 

CAUCHON (softly, worried). Messire 



94 



JEAN ANOUILH 



demands an answer. His reasons must be 
grave. Joan, are you in a State of Grace? 

JOAN. If I am not, God will help me 
in Grace. If I am, God will keep me in 
Grace. 

(The Priests murmur among themselves. The 
Inquisitorj impassivey sits down.) 

LADVENU (gently, warmly). Well 
spoken, Joan. 

THE PROMOTER (sharply). And the 
Devil would have the same clever answer. 

WARWICK (to Cauchon, pointing to The 
Inquisitor) . Is that the gentleman about 
whom I have been told? 

CAUCHON (softly). Yes. 

WARWICK, when did he arrive? 

CAUCHON. Three days ago. He has 
wished to be alone. 

WARWICK. Why was I not told of his 
arrival ? 

CAUCHON. He is one of us, sire. We do 
not acknowledge your authority here. 

WARWICK. Only when you count our 
money and eat our food. Never mind, the 
formalities do not matter to me. But time 
does and I hope his presence will not add 
to the confusion. I am almost as bewildered 
as the girl. All these questions must be 
very interesting to you gentlemen of the 
Church, but if we continue at this speed 
we'll never get to the trial and the girl 
will be dead of old age. Get to the burning 
and be done with it. 

CAUCHON (angry) . Sire ! Who speaks 
of burning ? We will try to save the girl — 

WARWICK. Monseigneur, I allow you 
this charade because the object of my 
government is to tell the whole Christian 
world that the coronation of the idiot 
Charles was managed by a sorceress, a 
heretic, amadgirl, a whore camp follower. 
However you do that, please move with 
greater speed. 

CAUCHON. And I remind you each day 
that this is a court of the Church. We are 
here to judge the charge of heresy. Our 
considerations are not yours. 

WARWICK. My dear Bishop, I know 
that. But the fine points of ecclesiastic 
judgments may be a little too distinguished 
for my soldiers — and for the rest of the 
world. Propaganda is a soft weapon : hold 
it in your hands too long, and it will move 
about like a snake, and strike the other 



way. Whatever the girl is or has been, she 
must now be stripped and degraded. That 
is why we bought her high, and it is what 
we will insist upon. (Smiles) I'm coming 
to like her. I admire the way she stands up 
to all of you. And she rides beautifully — 
I've seen her. Rare to find a woman who 
rides that way. I'd like to have known her 
in other circumstances, in a pleasanter 
world. Hard for me to remember that she 
took France away from us, deprived us of 
our heritage. We know that God is on the 
side of the English. He proved himself at 
Agincourt. "God and my right," you 
know. But when this girl came along, and 
we began to lose, there were those who 
doubted our motto. That, of course, 
cannot be tolerated. "God and my right' ' 
is inscribed on all English armor, and we 
certainly have no intention of changing 
the armor. So get on with her story. The 
world will forget her soon enough. Where 
were we? 

THE FATHER (comes forward) . At the 
moment when I find her under the lady 
tree. (He goes to Joan) What are you 
doing? You were crying out to someone, 
but the bastard fled before I could catch 
him. Who was it? Who was it? Answer 
me. Answer me, or I'll beat you to salt 
mash. 

JOAN. I was talking to the Blessed Saint 
Michael. 

THE FATHER (hitsjoan) . That will teach 
you to lie to your father. You want to 
start whoring like the others. Well, you 
can tell your Blessed Saint Michael that if 
I catch you together I'll plunge my 
pitchfork into his belly and strangle you 
with my bare hands for the filthy rutting 
cat you are. 

JOAN (softly). Father, it was Saint 
Michael who was talking to me. 

THE FATHER. The pricst will hear about 
this, and from me. I'll tell him straight 
out that not content with running after 
men, you have also dared to blaspheme ! 

JOAN. I swear to you before God that I 
am telling the truth. It's been happening 
for a long time and always at the noon or 
evening Angelus. The Saints appear to me. 
They speak to me. They answer me when 
I question them. And they all say the 
same thing. 



THE LARK 



95 



THE FATHER. Why would the Saints 
speak to you, idiot? I am your father, why 
don't they speak to me? If they had 
anything to say they'd talk to me. 

JOAN. Father, try to understand the 
trouble I'm in. For three years I've refused 
what they ask. But I don't think I can say 
no much longer. I think the moment has 
come when I must go. 

THE FATHER. FoT forty years I've 
worked myself to death to raise my 
children like Christians, and this is my 
reward. A daughter who thinks she hears 
Voices. 

JOAN. They say I can't wait any longer — 

THE FATHER. What Can't wait any 
longer? 

jOHAN. They tell me France is at the 
last moment of danger. My Voices tell me 
I must save her. 

THE FATHER. You ? — You ? You are 
crazy. Crazy. You are a fool ! A fool and 
a crazy girl. 

JOAN. I must do what my Voices tell 
me. I will go to the Sire de Beaudricourt 
and ask him to give me an armed escort 
to the Dauphin at Chinon. I'll talk to the 
Dauphin and make him fight. Then I will 
take the army to Orleans and we'll push 
the English into the sea. 

THE FATHER. FoT ten years I have 
dreamed that you would disgrace us with 
men. Do you think I raised you, sacrificed 
everything for you, to have you run off to 
live with soldiers? I knew what you 
would be. But you won't — I'll kill you 
first. 
(He begins to beat her and to kick her. J 

JOAN (screams) . Stop ! Stop ! Oh, 
Father, stop ! 

LADVENU ( rises y horrijied) . Stop him. 
Stop him. He's hurting her. 

CAUCHON. We cannot, Brocher 
Ladvenu. We do not know Joan. You 
forget that we first meet her at the trial. 
We can only play our roles, good or bad, 
just as they were, each in his turn. And 
we will hurt her far more than he does. 
You know that. (Turns to Warwick) Ugly, 
isn't it, this family scene? 

WARWICK. Why ? In England we are in 
favor of strong punishment for children. 
It makes character. I was half beaten to 
death as a boy, but I am in excellent health. 



THE FATHER (he looks down at Joan who 
has fallen at his feet). Crazy little whore. 
Do you still want to save France? (Then^ 
shamefaced^ he turns to the Judges) Well, 
messieurs, what would you have done in 
my place if your daughter had been like 
that? 

WARWICK. If we had known about this 
girl from the very beginning, we could 
have reached an agreement with her 
father. We tell people that our intelligence 
service is remarkable and we say it so 
often that everybody believes us. It should 
be their business not only to tell us what 
is happening, but what might happen. 
When a country virgin talked about 
saving France, I should have known about 
it. I tell myself now I would not have 
laughed. 

(The Mother comes forward. She bends over 
Joan.) 

THE FATHER (to The Mother) . The next 
time your daughter talks of running after 
soldiers, I'll put her in the river and with 
my own hands I'll hold her under. 
(The Mother takes Joan in her arms.) 

THE MOTHER. He hurt you bad. 

JOAN. Yes. 

THE MOTHER ( softlj ) . He's your father. 

JOAN. Yes. He is my father. Oh, Mama, 
somebody must understand. I can't do it 
alone. 

THE MOTHER. Lean against me. You're 
big now. I can hardly hold you in my 
arms. Joan, your father is a good and 
honest man but — (She whispers in Joan s 
ear) I've saved a little from the house 
money. If you'd like one, I'll buy you a 
broidered kerchief at the very next fair. 

JOAN. I don't need a kerchief. I won't 
ever be pretty. Mama. 

THE MOTHER. We're all a little wild 
when we're young. Who is it, Joan? 
Don't have secrets from me. Is he from 
our village ? 

JOAN. I don't want to marry. Mama. 
That isn't what I mean. 

THE MOTHER. Then what do you mean ? 

JOAN. Blessed Saint Michael says that 
I must put on man's clothes. He says that 
I must save France. 

THE MOTHER. Joan, I spcak to you in 
kindness, but I forbid you to tell me such 



96 



JEAN ANOUILH 



nonsense. A man's clothes! I should just 
like to see you try it. 

JOAN. But I'll have to, Mama, if I'm to 
ride horse with my soldiers. Saint Michael 
makes good sense. 

THE MOTHER. YouT soldiers? Your 
soldiers? You bad girl ! I'd rather see you 
dead first. Now I'm talking like your 
father, and that I never want to do. (She 
begins to cry) Running after soldiers ! What 
have I done to deserve a daughter like 
this? You will kill me. 

JOAN. No, Mama, no. (She cries out as 
her Mother moves off) Monseigneur Saint 
Michael. It cannot be done. Nobody will 
ever understand. It is better for me to say 
no right now. (Pauses, listens) Then Saint 
Michael's voice grew soft, the way it does 
when he is angry. And he said that I must 
take the first step. He said that God 
trusted me and if a mountain of ice did 
rise ahead of me it was only because God 
was busy and trusted me to climb the 
mountain even if I tore my hands and 
broke my legs, and my face might run 
with blood — (4fi^^ ^ second, slowly, 
carefully) Then I said that I would go. I 
said that I would go that day. 
(Joan's Brother comes forward and stands 
looking at her.) 

THE BROTHER. You haven't got the 
sense you were bom with. If you give me 
something next time, I won't tell Papa I 
saw you with your lover. 

JOAN. So it was you, you pig, you told 
them? Here's what I'll give you this 
time — (She slaps him) And the next time — 
(She slaps him again, and begins to chase him. 
He runs from her) and the time after that. 
(Joan's voice changes and she moves slowly 
about not concerned with him any longer but 
speaking into space) And so I went to my 
uncle Durand. And my uncle Durand 
went to the seigneur of the manor. And 
I walked a long way west and a little way 
south and there was the night I was 
shivering with rain — or with fear — and 
the day I was shivering with sun — or with 
fear — and then I walked to the west again 
and east. I was on my way to the first fool 
I had to deal with. And I had plenty of 
them to deal with. 

(She moves upstage, bumps into two Soldiers 
as Beaudricourt comes on stage.) 



BEAUDRicouRT. What is it? What's 
the matter? What does she want? What's 
the matter with these crazy fools? (He 
grabs Joan and shakes her) What's the 
matter with you, young woman? You've 
been carrying on like a bad girl. I've 
heard about you standing outside the 
doors ragging at the sentries until they 
fall asleep. 

JOAN (he holds her up. She dangles in 

front of his face) . I want a horse. I want 

the dress of a man. I want an armed 

escort. You will give them orders to take 

me to Chinon to see the Dauphin. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Of couTse. And I will 
also kick you in the place where it will do 
the most good. 

JOAN. Kicks, blows. Whichever you 
like best. I'm used to them by now. I 
want a horse. I want the dress of a man. 
I want an armed escort. 

BEAUDRICOURT. That's a new idea — a 
horse. You know who I am and what I 
usually want? Did the village girls tell 
you? When they come to isk a favor it 
usually has to do with a father or a brother 
who has poached my land. If the girl is 
pretty, I have a good heart, and we both 
pitch in. If the girl is ugly, well, usually 
I have a good heart, too, but not so good 
as the other way. I am known in this land 
for good-heartedness. But a horse is a 
nasty kind of bargain. 

JOAN. I have been sent by Blessed 
Saint Michael. 

BEAUDRICOURT (puts her down hurriedly, 
makes the Sign of the Cross) . Don't mix the 
Saints up in this kind of thing. That talk 
was good enough to get you past the 
sentries, but it's not good enough to get 
you a horse. A horse costs more than a 
woman. You're a country girl. You ought 
to know that. Are you a virgin? 

JOAN. Yes, sire. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Well, maybe we'll 
talk about a small horse. You have lovely 
eyes. 

JOAN. I want more than a horse, sire. 

BEAUDRICOURT (laughs) . You're 
greedy. But I like that sometimes. There 
are fools who get angry when the girl 
wants too much. But I say good things 
should cost a lot. That pleases me in a girl. 
You understand what I mean ? 



THE LARK 



97 



JOAN. No, sire. 

BEAUDRicouRT. That's good. I don't 
like clear- thinking women in bed. Not in 
my bed. You understand what I mean? 

JOAN. No, sire. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Well, 1 don't like 
idiots, either. What is it you're up to? 
What else besides a horse? 

JOAN. Just as I said before, sire. An 
armed escort as far as Chinon. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Stop that crazy talk. 
I'm the master here. I can send you back 
where you came from with no better 
present than the lashes of a whip. I told 
you I like a girl to come high, but if she 
costs too much the opposite effect sets in 
— and I can't — well, I can't. You 
understand what I mean ? (Suddenly) Why 
do you want to go to Chinon? 

JOAN. As I said before, sire, I wish to 
find Monseigneur the Dauphin. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Well, you are on a 
high road. Why not the Duke of Burgundy 
while you're at it? He's more powerful, 
and he likes the girls. But not our 
Dauphin. He runs from war and women. 
And hour with either would kill him. 
Why do you w^ant to see such a fellow? 

JOAN. I want an army, Messire. An 
army to march upon Orleans. 

BEAUDRICOURT. If you're crazy, forget 
about me. (Shouting) Boudousse. 
Boudousse. (A Soldier comes forward) 
Throw some cold water on this girl and 
send her back to her father. Don't beat 
her. It's bad luck to beat a crazy woman. 

JOAN. You won't beat me. You're a 
kind man, Messire. Very kind. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Sometimes yes, 
sometimes no. But I don't like virgins 
whose heads come off at night — 

JOAN. And you're very intelligent, 
which is sometimes even better than 
being kind. But when a man is intelligent 
and kind, then that's the very best 
combination on God's fine earth. 

BEAUDRICOURT (he waves the Guard 
away) . You're a strange girl. Want a little 
wine? Why do you think I'm intelligent? 

JOAN. It shows in your face. You're 
handsome, Messire. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Twenty years ago, I 
wouldn't have said no. I married two rich 
widows, God bless me. But not now. Of 



course, I've tried not to get old too fast, 
and there are men who get better looking 
with age — (Smiles) You knovs^, it's very 
comic to be talking like this with a 
shepherd girl who drops out of the sky 
one bright morning. I am bored here. My 
officers are animals. I have nobody to talk 
to. I like a little philosophy now and then. 
I should like to know from your mouth 
what connection you see between beauty 
and intelligence? Usually people say that 
handsome men are stupid. 

JOAN. Hunchbacks talk that way, and 
people with long noses, or those who will 
die of a bitter egg that grows in their 
head. God has the power to create a 
perfect man — (She smiles at him) And 
sometimes He uses His power. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Well, you can look at 
it that way, of course. But you take me, 
for example. No, I'm not ugly, but 
sometimes 1 wonder if I'm intelligent. 
No, no, don't protest. I tell you there 
are times when I have problems that seem 
too much for me. They ask me to decide 
something, a tactical or administrative 
point. Then, all of a sudden, I don't know 
why, my head acts like it's gone some 
place else, and I don't even understand 
the words people are saying. Isn't that 
strange ? (After a second) But I never show 
it. I roar out an order whatever happens. 
That's the main thing in an army. Make 
a decision, good or bad, just make it. 
Things will turn out almost the same, 
anyway. ( Softly ^ as if to himself) Still, I 
wish I could have done better. This is a 
small village to die away your life. (Points 
outside) They think I'm a great man, but 
they never saw anybody else. Like every 
other man, I wanted to be brilliant and 
remarkable, but I end up hanging a few 
poor bastards who deserted from a broken 
army. I wanted to shake a nation — Ah, 
well. (Looks at her) Why do I tell you all 
this ? You can't help me, and you're crazy. 

JOAN. They told me you would speak 
this way. 

BEAUDRICOURT. They told you? 

JOAN. Listen to me, nice, good Robert, 
and don't shout any more. It's useless. 
I'm about to say something very important. 
You will be brilliant and remarkable. You 
will shake a nation because / will do it for 



98 



JEAN ANOUILH 



you. Your name will go far outside this 
village — 

BEAUDRICOURT fputs his arms around 
her J . What are you talking about ? 

JOAN fshe pulls away from him) . Robert, 
don't think any more about my being a 
girl. That just confuses everything. You'll 
find plenty of girls vv^ho are prettier and 
w^ill give more pleasure — (Softly) and will 
not ask as much. You don't want me. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Well, I don't know. 
You're all right. 

JOAN (sharply) . If you want me to help 
you, then help me. When I say the truth 
say it with me. 

BEAUDRICOURT (politely). But you're 
a pleasant-looking girl, and it's nice 
weather, and . . . (Laughs) No, I don't 
want you any more than that. 

JOAN. Good. Now that we have got 
that out of the way, let's pretend that 
you've given me the clothes of a boy and 
we're sitting here like two comrades 
talking good sense. 

BEAUDRICOURT (fills a glass) . All right. 
Have a little wine. 

JOAN (drinks her wine). Kind, sweet 
Robert. Great things are about to begin 
for you. (As he starts to speak) No, no. 
Listen. The English are everywhere, and 
everywhere they are our masters. Brittany 
and Anjou will go next. The English wait 
only to see which one will pay the higher 
tribute money. The Duke of Burgundy 
signs a bitter treaty and the English give 
him the Order of the Golden Fleece. They 
invented just such medals for foreign 
traitors. Our little monkey Dauphin 
Charles sits with his court in Bourges, 
shaking and jibbering. He knows nothing, 
his court knows nothing, and all falls to 
pieces around him. You know that. You 
know our army, our good army of brave 
boys, is tired and sick. They believe the 
English will always be stronger and that 
there's no sense to it any more. When an 
army thinks that way, the end is near. The 
Bastard Dunois is a good captain and 
intelligent. So intelligent that nobody will 
listen to him. So he forgets that he should 
be leading an army and drowns himself 
in wine, and tells stories of past battles 
to his whores. I'll put a stop to that, you 
can be sure — 



BEAUDRICOURT (softly) . YouU put a 
stop to 

JOAN. Our best soldiers are like angry 
bulls. They always want to attack, to act 
fine for the history books. They are great 
champions of individual bravery. But they 
don't know how to use their cannon and 
they get people killed for nothing. That's 
what they did at Agincourt. Ah, when it 
comes to dying, they're all ready to 
volunteer. But what good is it to die? You 
think just as I do, my dear Robert: war 
isn't a tournament for fancy gentlemen. 
You must be smart to win a war. You 
must think, and be smart. (Quickly) But 
you who are so intelligent, knew all that 
when you were born. 

BEAUDRICOURT. I've always said it. I've 
always said that nobody thinks any more. 
I used to be a thinker, but nobody paid 
any attention. 

JOAN. They will, they will. Because 
you have just had an idea that will probably 
save all of us. 

BEAUDRICOURT. I've had an idea? 

JOAN. Well, you are about to have it. 
But don't let anything get in its way. 
Please sit quiet and don't, well, just — (As 
he is about to move she holds him down) You 
are the only man in France who at this 
minute can see the future. Sit still. 

BEAUDRICOURT. What is it that I see? 

JOAN. You know your soldiers. You 
know they will leave you soon. You know 
that to keep them you must give them 
faith. You have nothing else to give them 
now. A little bread, a little faith — good 
simple things to fight with. 

BEAUDRICOURT. It's tOO late 

JOAN. A girl comes before you. Saint 
Michael and Saint Catherine and Saint 
Marguerite have told her to come. You 
will say it's not true. But I believe it is 
true, and that's what matters. A farm -girl 
who says that God is on her side. You 
can't prove He isn't. You can't. Try it 
and see. The girl came a long, hard way, 
she got so far as you, and she has convinced 
you. Yes, I have. I have convinced you. 
And why have I convinced so intelligent 
a man? Because I tell the truth, and it 
takes a smart head to know the truth. 

BEAUDRICOURT. Where is this idea you 
said I had? 



THE LARK 



99 



JOAN. Coming, coming just this 
minute. You are saying to yourself, if she 
convinced me, why shouldn't she convince 
the Dauphin and Dunois and the Arch- 
bishop? After all they're only men like 
me, although a good deal less intelligent. 
(Very fast) All right, that's settled. But 
novv^ you're saying to yourself w^hen it 
comes to dying, soldiers are very 
intelligent, and so she'll have a harder 
time with them. No, she won't. She will 
say English heads are like all others : hit 
them hard enough, at the right time, and 
we'll march over them to Orleans. They 
need faith, your soldiers. They need 
somebody who believes it to say that 
God is on their side. Everybody says 
things like that. But / believe it — and 
that's the difference. Our soldiers will 
fight again, you know it, and because you 
know it you are the most remarkable 
man in France. 

BEAUDRicouRT. You think so? 

JOAN. The whole world will think so. 
But you must move fast. Like all great 
political men you are a realist. At this 
minute you are saying to yourself, ' 'If the 
troops will believe this girl has come from 
God, what difference does it make 
whether she has or not? I will send her to 
Bourges tomorrow with the courier." 

BEAUDRICOURT. The courier does go 
tomorrow. How did you know that? He 
goes with a secret packet — 

JOAN (laughs^ delighted) . Give me six 
good soldiers and a fine white horse. 1 
want a white horse, please. 1 will do the 
rest. But give me a quiet white horse 
because I don't know how to ride. 

BEAUDRICOURT (laughs) . You'll break 
your neck. 

JOAN. It's up to Blessed Saint Michael 
to keep me in the saddle. (He laughs. She 
doesnt like his laughter) I will make you a 
bet, Robert. I'll bet you a man's dress 
that if you will have two horses brought 
now, and we both ride at a gallop, 1 won't 
fall off. If I stay on, then will you believe 
in me ? All right ? 

BEAUDRICOURT (laughs) . All this 
thinking makes a man weary. 1 had other 
plans for this afternoon, as I told you, but 
any kind of exercise is good for me. 
Come on. 



(He exits. Joan, smiling, looks toward Heaven. 
Then she runs after Beaudricourt. But she is 
stopped by a Soldier and suddenly realizes she 
is back in the trial. She sits quietly as the lights 
fade out on the Beaudricourt scene.) 

WARWICK. She made that idiot believe 
he wasn't an idiot. 

CAUCHON. It was a man-woman scene, 
a little coarse for my taste. 

WARWICK. Coarse for jour taste? The 
trick of making him believe what she put 
into his head is exactly what I do in my 
trade and what you do in yours. (Suddenly) 
Speaking of your trade, sire, forgive a 
brutal question but, just between our- 
selves, do you really have the faith? 

CAUCHON (simply). As a child has it. 
And that is why my judges and I will try 
to save Joan. To the bitter end we will try 
to save her. Our honor demands that — 
(Warwick turns away. Cauchon, sharply) 
You think of us as collaborators and 
therefore without honor. We believed 
that collaboration with you was the only 
reasonable solution — 

WARWICK. And so it was. But when 
you say reasonable solution it is often 
more honorable to omit the word honor. 

CAUCHON (softly). I say honor. Our 
poor honor, the little that was left us, 
demanded that we fight for our beliefs. 

WARWICK. While you lived on English 
money — 

CAUCHON. Yes. And while eight 
hundred of your soldiers were at our 
gates. It was easy for free men to call us 
traitors, but we lived in occupied 
territory, dependent upon the will of 
your king to kill us or to feed us. We 
were men, and we wanted to live; we 
were priests, and we wanted to save Joan. 
Like most other men, we wanted 
everything. We played a shameful role. 

WARWICK. Shameful? I don't know. 
You might have played a nobler part, 
perhaps, if you had decided to be martyrs 
and fight against us. My eight hundred 
men were quite ready to help. 

CAUCHON. We had good reason to 
know about your soldiers. I remember no 
day without insults and threats. And yet 
we stood against you. Nine long months 
before we agreed to hand over a girl who 
had been deserted by everybody but us. 



lOO 



JEAN ANOUILH 



They can call us barbarians, but for all 
their noble principles I believe they would 
have surrendered her before we did. 

WARWICK. You could have given us the 
girl on the first day. Nine long months of 
endless what? 

CAUCHON. It was hard for us. God had 
been silent since Joan's arrest. He had not 
spoken to her or to us. Therefore, we had 
to do without his counsel. We were here 
to defend the House of God. During our 
years in the seminaries we learned how to 
defend it. Joan had no training in our 
seminaries and yet, abandoned, she 
defended God's House in her own way. 
Defended it with that strange conflict of 
insolence and humility, worldly sense and 
unworldly grandeur. (Softly) The piety 
was so simple and sweet — to the last 
moment of the last flame. We did not 
understand her in those days. We covered 
our eyes like old, fighting, childish men, 
and turned away so that we could not 
hear the cries of anguish. She was all alone 
at the end. God had not come to her. That 
is a terrible time for a religious nature, 
sire, and brings doubt and despair 
unknown to others. (Cauchon rises and 
turns away) But it is then and there that 
some men raise their heads, and when 
they do, it is a noble sight. 

WARWICK. Yes, it is. But as a man of 
politics, I cannot afford the doctrine of 
man's individual magnificence. I might 
meet another man who felt the same way. 
And he might express his individual 
magnificence by cutting off mj head. 

CAUCHON (softly^ as if he hadnt heard 
Warwick) . Sometimes, to console myself, 
I remember how beautiful were all those 
old priests who tried to protect the child, 
to save her from what can never now be 
mended — 

WARWICK. Oh, you speak in large 
words, sire. Political language has no 
such words as "never now be mended." 
I have told you that the time will come 
when we will raise her a statue in London. 

CAUCHON. And the time will come 
when our names will be known only for 
what we did to her; when men, forgiving 
their own sins, but angry with ours, will 
speak our names in a curse — 
(The lights dim on Warwick and Cauchon and 



we hear the music of a court song. A throne is 
brought on stage and as the lights come up 
slowly on The Dauphin^ s Courts the cjclorama 
reflects the royal Jleur-de-lis. The Dauphin, 
Charles, is lolling about on his throne playing 
at bilboquet. Agnes Sorel and The Little Queen 
are practicing a new dance. Yolande is moving 
about. Four Courtiers are playing at cards.) 

THE LITTLE QUEEN (she is having a hard 
time learning the dance steps) . It's very hard. 

AGNES. Everything is very hard for you, 
dear. 

THE LITTLE QUEEN (as they pass Charles) . 
It's a new dance. Very fashionable. 
Influenced by the Orient, they say. 

AGNES (to Charles) . Come. We'll teach 
you. 

CHARLES. I won't be going to the ball. 

AGNES. Well, we will be going. And we 
must dance better than anybody else and 
look better than anybody else. (Stops, to 
Charles, points to her headdress) And I'm 
not going in this old thing. I'm your 
mistress. Have a little pride. A mistress 
must be better dressed than anybody. You 
know that. 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. And SO must wives. 
I mean better dressed than other wives. 
The Queen of France in last year's shoddy. 
What do you think they will say, Charles? 

CHARLES. They will say that poor little 
Queen married a King who hasn't a sou. 
They will be wrong. I have a sou. 
(He throws a coin in the air. It falls and he 
begins to scramble on the floor Jor it.) 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. I Can hear them all 
the way to London. The Duchess of 
Bedford and the Duchess of Gloucester — 
(Charles, on the floor, is about tofnd his sou 
as the Archbishop and La Tremouille come in. 
Charles jumps back in fear.) 

LA TREMOUILLE (to Charles) . You grow 
more like your father each day. 

ARCHBISHOP. But his father had the 
decency to take to his bed. 

CHARLES. Which father? 

LA TREMOUILLE. You act SO Strangely, 
sire, that even I, who knew your mother, 
am convinced you are legitimate. (Angrily, 
to Charles who is still on the floor) Move. 
Move. 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. Oh, please don't 
speak to him that way. Monsieur de la 
Tremouille. 



THE LARK 



lOI 



ARCHBISHOP (who has been glaring at the 
dancers). You believe this is the proper 
time for dancing? 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. But if the English 
take us prisoner, we have to knovs^ a little 
something. We can't disgrace our 
country — 
(La Tremouille stares at her, exits.) 

YOLANDE. what harm do they do, sire ? 
They are young — and there isn't much 
ahead for them. 

ARCHBISHOP. There isn't much ahead 
for any of us. 
(He moves off.) 

YOLANDE. Please get up, Charles. It is 
a sad thing to see you so frightened by so 
many men. 

CHARLES. And w^hy shouldn't I be 
frightened of La Tremouille and the 
Archbishop? I have been all my life. They 
could order every soldier in the place to 
cut me up and eat me. 

AGNES. They're cheats, every w^oman 
in England. We set the styles — and they 
send spies to steal the latest models. But, 
fortunately, they're so ugly that nothing 
looks very w^ell — (Admires her own feet and 
hands) w^ith cows for feet and pigs for 
hands. We want new headdresses. Are 
you the King of France or aren't you? 

CHARLES. I don't know if I am. Nobody 
knows. I told you all about that the first 
night you came to bed. 

AGNES. The new headdress is two feet 
tall and has two horns coming from the 
side — 

CHARLES. Sounds like a man. A very 
small married man. 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. And they have a 
drape at the back — they will cause a 
revolution, Charles ; 

AGNES. The English ladies — the mis- 
tresses, I mean, of course — won't be able 
to sleep when they see us. And if they 
can't sleep neither will the Dukes. And 
if the Dukes can't sleep they won't feel 
well and they won't have time to march 
on us — 

CHARLES. They won't march on us. 
Nobody wants this dull town. They're 
already in Orleans. So there isn't much 
sense counterattacking with a headdress. 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. Oh, Charles, one 
has to have a little pleasure in life. And 



Mama — (Pointing to Yolande) and the 
Archbishop and La Tremouille, and all the 
wise people, tell us that the end is here, 
anyway, and this will be the last state 
ball— 

CHARLES. How much do they cost? 

AGNES. I flirted with the man — 
(Hastily) in a nice way — and he's going 
to let us have them for six thousand francs. 

CHARLES, where would I get six 
thousand francs, you little idiot? 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. Twelve thousand 
francs, Charles. I'm here. 

CHARLES . That's enough to pay Dunois ' 
army the six months' wages that I owe 
them. You are dreaming, my kittens. My 
dear mother-in-law, please speak to these 
children. 

YOLANDE. No. I wish to speak to you. 

CHARLES. For two days you've been 
following me about looking the way good 
women always look when they're about 
to give a lecture. 

YOLANDE. Have I ever spoken against 
your interests ? Have I ever shown myself 
concerned with anything but your welfare ? 
I am the mother of your Queen, but I 
brought Agnes to you when I realized she 
would do you good. 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. Please, Mama, 
don't brag about it. 

YOLANDE. My child, Agnes is a 
charming girl and she knows her place. 
It was important that Charles make up 
his mind to become a man, and if he jvas 
to become a man he had to have a woman. 

THE LITTLE QUEEN. I am a woman and 
his wife in the bargain. 

YOLANDE. You are my dear little girl 
and I don't want to hurt you, but you're 
not very much of a woman. I know 
because I was just like you. I was honest 
and sensible, and that was all. Be the 
Queen to your Charles, keep his house, 
give him a Dauphin. But leave the rest to 
others. Love is not a business for honest 
women. We're no good at it. Charles is 
more virile since he knows Agnes. 
(Worried) You are more virile, aren't 
you, Charles? 

AGNES (too firmly). Yes, indeed. 

YOLANDE. I hope SO. He doesn't act it 
with the Archbishop or La Tremouille. 



102 



JEAN ANOUILH 



AGNES. Things like that take a while. 
But he's much more virile. Doesn't read 
so much any more. (To Charles J And 
since it's all due to me the very least you 
can do is to give me the headdress. And 
one for the little Queen. (Charles doesri't 
answer) I feel ill. And if I feel ill it w^ill 
certainly be for a w^hole week. And you'll 
be very bored without me. (Eagerly^ as 
she sees his face) Sign a Treasury Bond and 
we'll worry afterwards. (He nods. She turns 
to The Little Queen) Come, my little 
Majesty. The pink one for you, the green 
one for me. (To Charles^ as they exit) We'll 
make fools of those London ladies, you'll 
see. It'll be a great victory for France. 

CHARLES (to Yolande) . A great victory 
for France. She talks like an army captain. 
I'm sick of such talk. France will be 
victorious, you'll be a great king — all the 
people who have wanted to make a king 
out of me. Even Agnes. She practices in 
bed. That's very funny. I must tell you 
about it some day. I am a poor frightened 
nothing with a lost kingdom and a broken 
army. When will they understand that? 

YOLANDE. I understand it, Charles. 

CHARLES (softly, taken aback). Do you? 
You've never said that before. 

YOLANDE. I say it now because 1 want 
you to see this girl. For three days I have 
had her brought here, waiting for you — 

CHARLES. I am ridiculous enough 
without playing games with village louts 
who come to me on clouds carrying a 
basket of dreams. 

YOLANDE. There is something strange 
about this girl, something remarkable. Or 
so everybody thinks, and that's what 
matters. 

CHARLES. You know La Tremouille 
would never allow me to see the girl. 

YOLANDE. why not? It is time they 
understood that a peasant at their council 
table might do a little good. A measure 
of common sense from humble people 
might bring us all — 

CHARLES (sharply). To ruin. Men of 
the people have been at council tables, 
have become kings, and it was a time of 
massacre and mistake. At least I'm 
harmless. The day may come when 
Frenchmen will regret their little Charles. 



At least, I have no large ideas about how 
to organize happiness and death. 
(He throws his ball in the air.) 

YOLANDE. Please stop playing at 
bilboquet, Charles. 

CHARLES. Let me alone. I like this 
game. When 1 miss the cup, the ball only 
falls on my nose, and that hurts nobody 
but me. But if I sit straight on the throne 
with the ball in one hand and the stick in 
the other, I might start taking myself 
seriously. Then the ball will fall on the 
nose of France, and the nose of France 
won't like it. 
(The Archbishop and La Tremouille enter.) 

LA TREMOUILLE. We have a new miracle 
every day. The girl walked to the village 
church to say her prayers. A drunken 
soldier yelled an insult at her. "You are 
wrong to curse," she said, "You will 
soon appear before our Lord." An hour 
later the soldier fell into a well and was 
drowned. The stumbling of a drunkard 
has turned the towoi into a roaring holiday. 
They are marching here now, shouting 
that God commands you to receive this 
girl. 

CHARLES. He hasn't said a word to me. 

LA TREMOUILLE. The day God speaks to 
you, sire, I will turn infidel. 

ARCHBISHOP (very angry) . Put up that 
toy, your majesty. You will have the rest 
of your life to devote to it. 

LA TREMOUILLE. Get ready to leave 
here. 

CHARLES. Where will I go ? Where will 
you go? To the English? 

ARCHBISHOP. Even from you, sire, we 
will not accept such words. 
(As La Tremouille angrily advances on Charles^ 
Yolande moves between them.) 

YOLANDE (to Archbishop) . Allow him 
to see the girl. 

ARCHBISHOP. And throw open the 
palace to every charlatan, every bone 
setter, every faith healer in the land? 

LA TREMOUILLE. What difference does 
it make any more ? We have come to the 
end of our rope. 

YOLANDE. If he sees the girl, it will 
give the people hope for a few days. 

CHARLES. Oh, I am tired of hearing 
about the girl. Bring her in and have it 



THE LARK 



103 



ended. Maybe she has a Httle money and 
can play cards. 

YOLANDE (to La TremouiUe) . We have 
nothing to lose, sire — 

LA TREMOUiLLE. When you deal with 
God you risk losing everything. If He has 
really sent this girl then He has decided to 
concern Himself with us. In that case, we 
are in even worse trouble than we thought. 
People who govern states should not 
attract God's attention. They should make 
themselves very small and pray that they 
will go unnoticed. 

(Joan comes in . She stands small and frightened , 
staring at Charles, bowing respectfully to the 
Archbishop. As she moves toward the throne, 
one of the Courtiers laughs. Joan turns to 
stare, and the Courtier draws back as if he is 
frightened.) 

CHARLES. What do you want? I'm a 
very busy man. It's time for my milk. 

JOAN (bows before him) . I am Joan the 
Maid. The King of Heaven has sent me 
here. I am to take you to Reims and have 
you anointed and crowned King of France. 

CHARLES. My. Well, that is splendid, 
mademoiselle, but Reims is in the hands 
of the English, as far as I know. How shall 
we get there ? 

JOAN. We will fight our way there, 
noble Dauphin. First, we will take 
Orleans and then we will walk to Reims. 

LA TREMOUILLE. I am commander of 
the army, madame. We have not been 
able to take Orleans. 

JOAN (carefully) . I will do it, sire. 
With the help of our Lord God who is 
my only commander. 

LA TREMOUILLE. When did Orleans 
come to God's attention? 

JOAN. I do not know the hour, but I 
know that he wishes us to take the city. 
After that, we will push the English into 
the sea. 

LA TREMOUILLE. Is the Lord in such 
bad shape that he needs you to do his 
errands ? 

JOAN. He has said that he needs me. 

ARCHBISHOP. Young woman — (Joan 
kneels and kisses the hem of his robe) If God 
wishes to save the Kingdom of France he 
has no need of armies. 

JOAN. Monseigneur, God doesn't want 
a lazy Kingdom of France. We must put 



up a good fight and then He will give us 
victory. 

ARCHBISHOP (to Charles). The replies 
of this girl are, indeed, interesting and 
make a certain amount of good sense. But 
this is a delicate matter : a commission of 
learned doctors will now examine her. 
We will review their findings in council — 

LA TREMOUILLE (to Charles) . And will 
keep you informed of our decision. Go 
back to your book. She will not disturb 
you any more today. Come, Madame 
Henriette — 

JOAN. My name is Joan. 

LA TREMOUILLE. Forgive me. The last 
quack was called Henriette. 

ARCHBISHOP. Come, my child — 

CHARLES. No (He motions to Joan) You. 
Don't move. (He turns toward La TremouiUe, 
standing straight and stiff and holding Joan^ s 
hand to give himself courage) Leave me 
alone with her. (Giggles) Your King 
commands you. (La TremouiUe and the 
Archbishop bow and leave. Charles holds his 
noble pose for an instant, then bursts into 
laughter) And they went. It's the first 
time they ever obeyed me. (Very worried) 
You haven't come here to kill me? (She 
smiles) No. No, of course not. You have 
an honest face. I've lived so long with 
those pirates that I've almost forgotten 
what an honest face looks like. Are there 
other people who have honest faces? 

JOAN (gravely). Many, sire. 

CHARLES. I never see them. Brutes and 
whores, that's all I ever see. And the 
little Queen. She's nice, but she's stupid. 
And Agnes. She's not stupid — and she's 
not nice. (He climbs on his throne, hangs his 
feet over one of the arms and sighs) All right. 
Start boring me. Tell me that I ought to 
be a great King. 

JOAN (softly). Yes, Charles. 

CHARLES. Listen. If you want to make 
an impression on the Archbishop and the 
council, we'll have to stay in this room 
for at least an hour. If you talk to me of 
God and the Kingdom of France, I'll 
never live through the hour. Let's do 
something else. Do you know how to play 
at cards? 

JOAN. I don't know what it is. 

CHARLES. It is a nice game invented to 
amuse my Papa when he was ill. I'll teach 



104 



JEAN ANOUILH 



you. (He begins to hunt for the cards) I hope 
they haven't stolen them. They steal 
everything from me around here and 
cards are expensive. Only the wealthiest 
princes can have them. I got mine from 
Papa. I'll never have the price of another 
pack. If those pigs have stolen them — No. 
Here they are. (He finds them in his pocket) 
My Papa was crazy. Went crazy young — 
in his thirties. Did you know that? 
Sometimes I am glad I am a bastard. At 
least I don't have to be so frightened of 
going crazy. Then sometimes I wish I 
were his son and knew that I was meant 
to be a king. It's confusing. 

JOAN. Of the two, which would you 
prefer ? 

CHARLES. Well, on the days when I 
have a little courage, I'd risk going crazy. 
But on the days when I haven't any 
courage — that's from Sunday to Saturday 
— I would rather let everything go to hell 
and live in peace in some foreign land on 
whatever little money I have left. 

JOAN. Today, Charles, is this one of 
the days when you have courage ? 

CHARLES. Today? (He thinks a minute) 
Yes, it seems to me I have a little bit 
today. Not much, but a little bit. I was 
sharp with the Archbishop, and — 

JOAN. You will have courage every day. 
Beginning now. 

CHARLES. You have a charm in a bottle 
or a basket? 

JOAN. I have a charm. 

CHARLES. You are a witch ? You can tell 
me, you know, because I don't care. I 
swear to you that I won't repeat it. I have 
a horror of people being tortured. A long 
time ago, they made me witness the 
burning of a heretic at the stake. I 
vomited all night long. 

jOANi I aril not a witch. But I have a 
charm. 

CHARLES. Sell it to me without telling 
the others. 

JOAN. I will give it to you, Charles. 
For nothing. 

CHARLES. Then I don't want it. What 
you get free costs too much. (He shuffes 
the cards) I act like a fool so that people 
will let me alone. My Papa was so crazy 
they think I am, too. He was very crazy, 
did all kinds of strange things, some of 



them very funny. One day he thought it 
would be nice to have a great funeral, but 
nobody happened to die just then so he 
decided to bury a man who'd been dead 
four years. It cost a fortune to dig him 
out and put him back, but it was fun. (He 
laughs merrily^ catches himself, stares atfoan) 
But don't think you can catch me too 
easily. I know a little about the world. 

JOAN. You know too much. You are 
too smart. 

CHARLES. Yes. Because I must defend 
myself against these cutthroats. They've 
got large bones, I've got puny sticks. But 
my head's harder than theirs and I've 
clung to my throne by using it. 

JOAN (gently) . I would like to defend 
you against them, Charles. I would give 
my life to do it. 

CHARLES. Do you mean that ? 

JOAN. Yes. And I'm not afraid of 
anything. 

CHARLES. You're lucky. Or you're a 
liar. Sit down and I'll teach you to play. 

JOAN. All right. You teach me this 
game and I'll teach you another game. 

CHARLES. What game do you know? 

JOAN. How not to be too smart. 
(Softly) And how not to be afraid. 

CHARLES (laughs). You'll be here a 
lifetime, my girl. Now. See these cards? 
They have pictures painted on them. 
Kings, queens and knaves, just as in real 
life. Now which would you say was the 
most powerful, which one could take all 
the rest? 

JOAN. The king. 

CHARLES. Well, you're wrong. This 
large heart can take the king. It can put 
him to rout, break his heart, win all his 
money. This card is called — 

JOAN. I know. It is called God. Because 
God is more powerful than kings. 

CHARLES. Oh, leave God alone for a 
minute. It's called the ace. Are yoU 
running this game ? God this and God that. 
You talk as if you dined with Him last 
night. Didn't anybody tell you that the 
English also say their prayers to God? 
Every man thinks God is on his side. The 
rich and powerful know He is. But we're 
not rich and powerful, you and I — and 
France. 

JOAN. That isn't what God cares 



THE LARK 



^05 



about. He is angry with us because we 
have no courage left. God doesn't like 
frightened people. 

CHARLES. Then He certainly doesn't 
like me. And if He doesn't like me, why 
should I like Him? He could have given 
me courage. I wanted it. 

JOAN (sharply). Is God your nurse? 
Couldn't you have tried to do a little 
better? Even with those legs. 

CHARLES. I am sorry to know that my 
legs have already come to your attention. 
It's because of my legs that Agnes can 
never really love me. That's sad, isn't it? 

JOAN. No. 

CHARLES. Why not? 

JOAN. Because your head is ugly, too, 
and you can't be sad about everything. 
But what's inside your head isn't ugly, 
because God gave you sense. And what do 
you do with it? Play cards. Bounce a ball 
in the air. Play baby tricks with the 
Archbishop and act the fool for all to see. 
You have a son. But what have you made 
for him? Nothing. And when he's grown 
he, too, will have a right to say, "God 
didn't like me, so why should I like 
Him?" But when he says God he will 
mean you because every son thinks his 
father is God. And when he's old enough 
to know that, he will hate you for what 
you didn't give him. 

CHARLES. Give him? What can I give 
him? I'm glad to be alive. I've told you 
the truth: I am afraid. I've always been 
and I always will be. 

JOAN. And now I'll tell you the truth : 
I am also afraid. (With force) And why 
not? Only the stupid are not afraid. What 
is the matter with you? Don't you under- 
stand that it was far more dangerous for 
me to get here than it is for you to build 
a kingdom? I've been in danger every 
minute of the way, and every minute of 
the way I was frightened. I don't want to 
be beaten, I don't want pain, I don't want 
to die. I am scared. 

CHARLES (softly). What do you do 
when you get scared? 

JOAN. Act as if I wasn't. It's that 
simple. Try it. Say to yourself, yes, I am 
afraid. But it's nobody else's business, so 
go on, go on. And you do go on. 

CHARLES (softly) . Where do you go ? 



to get 



igh a stronger 



JOAN (slowly, carefully) . To the English, 
outside Orleans. And when you get there 
and see the cannon and the archers, and 
you know you are outnumbered, you will 
say to yourself, all right, they are stronger 
than I am, and that frightens me, as well 
it should. But I'll march right through 
because I had sense enough 
frightened first. 

CHARLES. March through a 
army? That can't be done. 

JOAN. Yes it can. If you have sense and 
courage. Do you want to know what 
happened in my village last year? They 
tell the story as a miracle now but it 
wasn't. The Bouchon boy went hunting. 
He's the best poacher in our village, and 
this day he was poaching on the master's 
grounds. The master kept a famous dog, 
trained to kill, and the dog found the 
Bouchon boy. The boy was caught and 
death faced him. So he threw a stone and 
the dog turned his head. That was sense. 
And while the dog turned his head the 
boy decided the only way was to stand 
and fight. That was courage. He strangled 
the dog. That was victory. See? 

CHARLES. Didn't the dog bite him? 

JOAN (as if to a stupid child). You're 
like the old people in the village — you 
really believe in miracles. Of course the 
dog bit him. But I told you the boy had 
sense, and sense saved his life. God gave 
man an inside to his head, and He naturally 
doesn't want to see it wasted. (Smiles) 
See? That's my secret. The witches' 
secret. What will you pay me for it now? 

CHARLES. What do you want? 

JOAN. The army of France. Believe in 
God and give me the army. 

CHARLES (moves away foom her) . To- 
morrow. I'll have time to get ready — 

JOAN (moves after him) . No, right now. 
You are ready. Come on, Charlie. 

CHARLES. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I've 
been waiting for you and didn't know — 
(Laughs nervously) Shall we send for the 
Archbishop and La Tremouille and tell 
them that I have decided to give the army 
to you? It would be fun to see their faces. 

JOAN. Call them. 

CHARLES (in a panic). No. I am 
frightened. 

JOAN. Are you as afraid as you ever 



io6 



JEAN ANOUILH 



can be, ever were or will be, then, now 
and in the future? Are you sick? 

CHARLES (holding his stomach) . I think 
so. 

JOAN. Good. Good. Then the worst is 
over. By the time they get scared, you'll 
be all over yours. Now, if you're as sick 
as you can get, I'll call them (She runs 
upstage and calls out) Monseigneur the 
Archbishop. Monseigneur de la Tre- 
mouille. Please come to the Dauphin. 

CHARLES ( almost happy ) . I am very sick. 

JOAN (moves him gently to the throne and 
arranges his hands and feet) . God is 
smiling. He is saying to Himself, "Look 
at that little Charles. He is sicker than 
he's ever been in his life. But he has 
called in his enemies and will face them. 
My, such a thing is wonderful." (With 
great force) Hang on, Charles. We'll be in 
Orleans. We'll march right up. 
(The Archbishop and La Tremouille enter, 
followed by Yolande and the Courtiers.) 

ARCHBISHOP. You scnt for us. Your 
Highness ? 

CHARLES (very sharply) . I have made a 
decision. The Royal Army is now under 
the command of Joan the Virgin Maid, 
here present. (Roars out) I wish to hear 
no word from you. None. 
(They stare at Charles.) 

JOAN (clapping her hands). Good. 
Good, my Charles. You see how simple 
it is? You're getting better looking, 
Charles. (Charles giggles. Then he suddenly 
stops the giggle and stares at Joan. She stares 
at him. She drops to her knees) Oh, my God, 
I thank you. 

CHARLES. There is no time to lose. We 
will need your blessing, sire. Give it to 
us. (To La Tremouille) Kneel down, sire. 
(La Tremouille, Yolande and the Courtiers 
drop to their knees. As the Archbishop 
pronounces the blessing, we hear the chorus 
sing the '^Benedictus.^^ A Court Page gives a 
sword to The Dauphin. The Dauphin gives the 
sword to Joan. Warwick comes into the scene 
and moves downstage to address the audience.) 

WARWICK. In real life, it didn't work 
out exactly that way. As before, now, 
and forever, there were long discussions 
in the French fashion. The council met. 
Desperate, frightened, with nothing to 
lose, they decided to dress the girl in 



battle flags and let her go forth as a symbol 
of something or other. It worked well. 
A simple girl inspired simple people to 
get themselves killed for simple ideals. 
(Joan rises and moves away from The Dauphin. 
She puts her hand on the sword, and lowers 
her head in prayer.) 



CURTAIN 



ACT TWO 



Before the curtain rises we hear the music 
of a soldier's song. The Soldiers sing of Joan 
and her victories. As the curtain rises we see 
Joan, in full armor, move across the stage to 
the music. She carries her sword high above 
her head in a kind of hero's salute to a group 
of admiring Village Women. She marches off 
as Cauchon, The Inquisitor, and the Judges 
take their places. Warwick moves down to 
address the audience. 



WARWICK. She was in the field. From 
that day laws of strategy no longer made ^ 
any difference. We began to lose. They | 
say that Joan worked no miracles at 
Orleans. They say that our plan of isolated 
fortresses was absurd, that they could 
have been taken by anyone who had 
courage enough to attack. But that is not 
true. Sir John Talbot was not a fool. He's 
a good soldier, as he proved long before 
that miserable business, and after it. By 
all military laws his fortified positions 
could not have been broken. And they 
could not have been broken except by — 
Well, by what? What shall we call it 
even now? The unknowoi, the unguessed 
— God, if that's the way you believe. The 
girl was a lark in the skies of France, high 
over the heads of her soldiers, singing a 
joyous, crazy song of courage. There she 
was, outlined against the sun, a target for 
everybody to shoot at, flying straight and 
happy into battle. To Frenchmen, she was 
the soul of France. She was to me, too. 
(Smiles, to Cauchon) Monseigneur, I like 
France. Of course, you have your fair 
share of fools and blackguards. (Somebody 
coughs nervously. Warwick laughs) But every 
once in a while a lark does appear in your 
sky and then everything stupid and evil is 



THE LARK 



107 



wiped out by the shadow of the lark. I 
like France very much. 

CAUCHON. Your guns prove your 
affection. 

WARWICK. They prove nothing. 1 love 
animals but I hunt with guns. (Sharply) 
Too difficult to explain to a man of your 
simple piety, Monseigneur. So let's get 
on with the trial. The lark has been 
captured. The King she crowned, the 
royal court she saved — for a minute, at 
least — are about to abandon their little 
girl. Their loyalty lasted through victory. 
When we took her prisoner, their luck 
ran out. They are returning as fast as they 
can to the old, stale political games. 
(Charles and the Archbishop appear.) 

JOAN fas she goes back to the trial) . 
Charles. (No answer) Charles. 

CHARLES (he turns toward her, then turns 
away again. He speaks to the Archbishop) . 
I didn't want to send the letter. I tell you 
I have a feeling that — 

ARCHBISHOP. The letter was necessary, 
sire. We must be rid of the girl now. She 
is dangerous to us. 

CHARLES. I didn't like the letter — 

CAUCHON (gently, to Joan) . Yesterday 
Charles disavowed you in a letter sent to 
all his cities. 

JOAN. Charles. (No answer. To Cauchon) 
Well. He is still my King. And he is your 
King. 

CAUCHON. No, he is not my King. We 
are loyal subjects of Henry of Lancaster, 
King of England, King of France. Joan, 
we love France as much as you do, but 
we believe that English Henry will put an 
end to this terrible war. That is why we 
have taken him as king. The man you call 
king is, for us, a rebel, claiming a throne 
that does not belong to him, refusing a 
good peace because it does not suit his 
ambitions. He is a puppet man, and we 
do not wish him as master. (Sharply) 
But I only confuse you. This is not a 
political trial in which you state your 
beliefs and we state ours. We are here 
only to return a lost girl to the bosom of 
the Sainted Mother Church. 

JOAN (pointing to Charles) . That puppet 
man is the king God gave you. He is a 
poor, skinny, miserable thing, but given 
a little time — 



CHARLES (to the Archbishop) . I object as 
much to being defended in this fashion as 
I do to being attacked. 

ARCHBISHOP (maliciously) . Let them 
speak, sire. Turn away. It will be over 
soon. They will speed up the trial now. 
They will bum her at the stake. 

CHARLES (softly, OS if he were sick) . I hate 
violence. It makes me sick — 

ARCHBISHOP (sharply) . Count yourself 
a lucky man. If the English do not condemn 
her to death, we will have to do it. 

CHARLES. I will never do that, 
Monseigneur. After all, the girl loved 
me. I will never do that. 

ARCHBISHOP. No, sirc, certainly not. 
We will do it for you. 
(They move off.) 

CAUCHON (to Joan). You are not 
stupid, Joan. You can understand what 
we think. You swear that you heard 
voices and you swear to the messages they 
sent you. But because we believe in 
another king, we cannot believe that it 
was God Who sent you to fight against 
us. We are priests but we are men. And 
man can not believe that God has turned 
against him. 

JOAN. You'll have to believe it when 
we've beaten you. 

CAUCHON. Ah, you answer like a 
foolish child. 

JOAN. My Voices told me — 

CAUCHON. How often have we heard 
those words? Do you think you are the 
only girl who has ever heard voices ? 

JOAN. No, I don't think that. 

CAUCHON. Not the first and not the 
last. Every village priest has had his share 
of young girls in crisis. If the Church 
believed every sick child — (Wearily) You 
have good sense. You were commander 
in chief of the army. 

JOAN (with pride and sudden energy) . I 
commanded brave men. They believed in 
me, and they followed me. 

CAUCHON. Yes. And if on the morning 
of an attack one of your brave men had 
suddenly heard Voices that ordered him 
not to follow you, what would you have 
done with him? 

(Joan laughs and there is sudden, loud laughter 
from offstage Soldiers.) 

JOAN (calls out toward the laughter) . The 



io8 



JEAN ANOUILH 



Seigneur Bishop is a priest. He has never 
been close to you, my soldiers. (The 
laughter dies off. Amused, she turns hack to 
Cauchon) A good army fights, drinks, 
rapes — but they don't hear voices. 

CAUCHON. A jest is not an answer. 
You know that a disobedient soldier in 
your army, in any army in this world, 
would be silenced. The Church Militant 
is also an army of this earth and we, its 
priests, do not believe in the Divine origin 
oi jour disobedience. Nobody believes in 
you now, Joan. 

JOAN. The common people believe in 
me — 

CAUCHON. They believe in anything. 
They will follow another leader to- 
morrow. You are alone, all alone. 

JOAN. I think as I think. You have the 
right to punish me for it. 

CAUCHON. You are strong and you are 
stubborn, but that is not a sign that God 
is on your side. 

JOAN. When something is black I 
cannot say that it is white. 

THE PROMOTER (rises and speaks angrily 
to Joan) . What spell did you cast upon 
the man you call your King? By what 
means did you force him to give his armies 
to you? 

JOAN. I have told you. I cast no spell 
upon him, 

THE PROMOTER. It is Said that you gave 
him a piece of mandrake. 

JOAN. I don't know what mandrake is. 

THE PROMOTER. Your secret has a 
name. We want to know what it is. 

JOAN (sharply). I gave him courage. 
That is the only word I know for what 
was between us. When a girl says one 
word of good sense and people listen to 
her, that's proof that God is present and 
no strange spells or miracles are needed. 

LADVENU (softly) . Now there is a good 
and humble answer, Monseigneur. An 
answer that cannot be held against her. 

THE PROMOTER. I do not agree. She is 
saying that she does not believe in the 
miracles as they are taught in our Holy 
Book. (To Joan) You declare that you 
deny the act of Jesus at the Marriage of 
Cana? You declare that you deny the 
miracle raising of Lazarus from the dead ? 

JOAN. No, Messire. Our Seigneur 



changed the water into wine and retied 
the thread of Lazarus' life. But for Him 
Who is Master of life and death, that is no 
more miracle than if I were to make 
thread for my loom. 

THE PROMOTER (with great anger, to the 
Judges). Mark her words. Write them 
down. She says that Jesus made no 
miracles. 

JOAN (runs toward the Judges with great 
force) . I say that true miracles are not 
tricks performed by gypsies in a village 
square. True miracles are created by men 
when they use the courage and intelligence 
that God gave them. 

CAUCHON. You are saying to us, to us, 
that the real miracle of God on this earth 
is man. Man, who is naught but sin and 
error, impotent against his own 
wickedness — 

JOAN. And man is also strength and 
courage and splendor in his most desperate 
minutes. I know man because I have seen 
him. He is a miracle. 

LADVENU (quickly, nervously). Mon- 
seigneur, Joan speaks an awkward lan- 
guage. But she speaks from the heart, and 
without guile. Perhaps when we press 
down upon her, we risk making her say 
here what she does not mean. 

THE PROMOTER (to Joan) . Do you 
believe that man is the greatest miracle 
of God? 

JOAN. Yes, Messire. 

THE PROMOTER (shouts) . You blas- 
pheme. Man is impurity and lust. The 
dark acts of his nights are the acts of a 
beast — 

JOAN. Yes, Messire. And the same 
man who acts the beast will rise from a 
brothel bed and throw himself before a 
blade to save the soldier who walks beside 
him. Nobody knows why he does. He 
doesn't know. But he does it, and he dies, 
cleansed and shining. He has done both 
good and evil, and thus twice acted like 
a man. That makes God happy because 
God made him for just this contradiction. 
We are good and we are evil, and that is 
what was meant. 

(There is indignant movement among the 
Judges. The inquisitor rises, holds up his hand. 
Immediately there is silence. They have been 

[ting for him to speak.) 



wan 



THE LARK 



109 



THE INQUISITOR. I havc at no time 
spoken. (To Joan) I speak to you now. I 
represent here the Holy Inquisition of 
which I am the Vicar for France. I have 
arrived from the south of Spain, and have 
little knowledge of the French and 
English war. It does not concern me 
whether Charles or the Lancaster Henry 
rules over France. It does not concern me 
that the French Duke of Burgundy has 
joined the English, and thus Frenchman 
fights French brother. They are all 
children of the Church. Nor have I interest 
in defending the temporal integrity of the 
Church in these quarrels. (Turns toward 
Cauchon) We leave such matters to our 
bishops and our priests, (hows to Cauchon) 
Nor time to be curious about the kindness 
and humanity which seem to move the 
judgment. (Sharply, toward The Promoter) 
Nor do we find interest in these endless 
dreams of the Devil that haunt the nights 
of the Promoter. The Holy Inquisition 
fights in the dark world of night, against 
an enemy it alone can recognize. (Stops, 
moves toward Warwick) We do not care that 
the princes of the earth have sometimes 
laughed at the vigilance with which we 
hunt the enemy, the time and thought 
that we give to the judgment of the enemy. 
The princes of the earth are sometimes 
hurrying and shallow men. They remove 
their enemies with a length of rope and, 
in the crudeness of their thinking, they 
believe the danger ended there. We hear 
the mocking laughter of such men and we 
forgive it. The Holy Inquisition concerns 
itself in matters unknown to temporal 
kings. Our enemy is a great enemy and 
has a great name. (To Joan) You know his 
name? 

JOAN . No , Messire . I do not understand 
you. 

THE INQUISITOR. You will Understand 
me. Stand up. You will answer now to me. 
Are you a Christian? 

JOAN. Yes, Messire. 

THE INQUISITOR. The trccs that shaded 
the village church threw shadows on the 
house of your father. The bells of the 
church brought you to prayer and sent 
you to work. The men we sent to your 
village all bring the same word : you were 
a pious girl. 



JOAN. Yes, Messire. 

THE INQUISITOR. You were a tender 
little girl. And you were a tender woman. 
You cried for the wounded in every 
battle — 

JOAN. ,Yes. I cried for the wounded. 
They were French. 

THE INQUISITOR. And you Cried for the 
English. You stayed with a wounded 
English soldier who screamed through a 
night of pain. You held him until he died, 
calling him your child and giving him a 
hope of Heaven. 

JOAN. You know that, Messire? 

THE INQUISITOR. Yes. The Holy 
Inquisition knows much of you, Joan. 
Grave considerate talk was given to you. 
And they sent me here to judge you. 

LADVENU. Messire Inquisitor, Joan has 
always acted with kindness and Christian 
charity, but this court has buried it in 
silence. I am happy to hear you remind 
them that — 

THE INQUISITOR ( Sternly ) . Silence, 
Brother Ladvenu. I ask you not to forget 
that the Holy Inquisition alone is qualified 
to distinguish between theological virtues 
and that troubled brew that man so 
boastfully calls the milk of human 
kindness. (Turns to the Judges) Ah, my 
masters. What strange matters concern 
you all. Your business is to defend the 
Faith. But you see the kind eyes of a 
young girl and you are overwhelmed. 

LADVENU. Our Lord loved with charity 
and kindness, Messire. He said to a sinner, 
"Go in peace." He said — 

THE INQUISITOR. Silence, I Said to you. 
Brother Ladvenu. (Softly, carefully) You 
are young. I am told your learning is very 
great and that is why you were admitted 
to this trial. Therefore I am hopeful that 
experience will teach you not to translate 
the great words into the vulgar tongue, 
nor embroider the meaning to suit your 
heart. Be seated and be silent. (He turns 
hack to Joan) You were very young when 
you first heard your Voices. 

JOAN. Yes, Messire. 

THE INQUISITOR. I am going to shock 
you: there is nothing very exceptional 
about the Voices you heard in those days. 
Our archives are full of such cases. There 
are many young visionaries. Girls 



I 10 



JEAN ANOUILH 



frequently experience a crisis of 
mysticism. It passes. But with you — and 
your priest should have recognized it — 
the crisis was prolonged. The messages 
became precise and the Celestial Voices 
began to use most unusual words. 

JOAN. Yes. My Voices told me to go 
and save the Kingdom of France. 

THE INQUISITOR. A Strange order to an 
ignorant peasant girl. 

JOAN. Not so strange, Messire, because 
it turned out to be the truth. 

THE INQUISITOR. I Say a strange order 
to a girl who had seen nothing of war. 
The troubles of France could have been no 
more to you than tales told at twilight. 
And yet suddenly you went out into the 
great world of kings and battles, con- 
vinced that it was your mission to aid 
your brothers in their struggle to keep 
the land on which they were bom, and 
which they imagine belongs to them. 

JOAN. Our Lord could not want the 
English to kill us and to conquer us. He 
could not want us to live by their laws 
and wishes. When they have gone back 
across the sea, to their own land, I will 
not go and pick a quarrel with them. They 
can rest easy in their own house. I've 
always said that. 

THE INQUISITOR ( Sternly ) . And I say 
your presumption is not suited to my 
taste. 

LADVENU. she did not mean, Messire 
— she speaks in a youthful fashion. 

CAUCHON (softly). Be still. Brother 
Ladvenu. 

THE INQUISITOR (to Joan) . It would 
have been more fitting for a pious girl to 
have spent her life in prayers and penitence 
and, in such manner, obtained from 
Heaven the promise that the English 
would be defeated. 

JOAN. I did all that. But I think you 
must first strike and then pray. That's the 
way God wants it. I had to explain to 
Charles how to attack. And he believed 
me and Dunois believed me and La Hire — 
good men, wild bulls they were, and 
warriors. Ah, we had some fine battles 
together. It was good, in the dawn, riding 
boot to boot with friends — 

THE PROMOTER. To the kill. Did your 
Voices instruct you to kill? 



JOAN (angrily). I have never killed a 
man. But war is war. 

CAUCHON. You love war, Joan. 

JOAN (softly). Yes. And that is one of 
the sins from which God will have to 
absolve me. But I did not like pain or 
death. At night, on the battlefield, I would 
weep for the dead — 

THE PROMOTER. You would weep at 
night for the dead but by morning you 
were shouting for a new battle. 

JOAN (moves to him, with great force) . I 
say God did not wish one Englishman to 
remain in France. That's not so hard to 
understand, is it? We had to do our work, 
that's all. You are wise men, you think 
too much. Your heads are filled with too 
much celestial science. You don't under- 
stand even the simplest things any more — 
things that my dullest soldier would 
understand without talk. Isn't that true, 
La Hire? 

(She stumbles, moves away from the Judges, 
and falls to the ground. The lights dim on the 
trial and we hear again the whistling of the 
soldier^ s song. La Hire, in full armor, appears 
upstage and moves toward Joan.) 

LA HIRE. The morning has come, 
Madame Joan. 
(She sits up, shivers, stares at La Hire.) 

JOAN. The night was cold. La Hire. 
(He sits beside her, warms her hands in his 
own. Joan looks toward the trial, then up, 
then back to La Hire, as if she were confused 
by the place and the time) Good La Hire. 
Great La Hire. You've really come to 
help me as I knew you would. 

LA HIRE (he takes out an onion and begins 
to peel it). Come to help you? I was 
sleeping fifty feet from you, Madame Joan, 
watching over you as I always do. (She 
laughs and moves closer to him) Don't come 
too close. I stink of wine and onions. 

JOAN. No, no. You smell fine. 

LA HIRE. Usually you tell me I stink 
too much to be a Christian. You say I am 
a danger to the army because if the wind 
is behind me the English will know where 
we are. 

JOAN. Oh, La Hire, I was so stupid in 
those days. You know how girls are. 
Nothing ever happens to them, they know 
nothing, but they pretend they know 
everything. But I am not so stupid any 



i 



THE LARK 



II I 



more. You smell good because you smell 
like a man. 

LA HIRE. I can't stand a man who 
washes in the field because to me a man 
like that isn't a man. 1 was brought up on 
an onion in the morning. The rest can 
have their sausage. The smell is more 
distinguished, you tell me. I know you 
think a breakfast onion is a sin. 

JOAN (laughs) . A breakfast onion is not 
a sin. Nothing that is true is a sin, La 
Hire. 1 was a fool. I tormented you. But 
I didn't know anything then. I didn't. 
(Softly) Ah, you smell so good. Sweat, 
onions, wine. You have all the smells a 
man should have. And you curse, you kill, 
and you think of nothing but women. 

LA HIRE. Me? 

JOAN. You. But I tell you that with all 
your sins you are like a bright new coin in 
the hand of God. 

LA HIRE. Well, I have had a bastard life 
and when I go into battle, I say my 
prayers. I say, "God, I hope You'll help 
me as 1 would help You if You faced those 
Goddamned' ' — 

JOAN (shocked) . La Hire ! 

LA HIRE (softly) . To tell you the truth, 
I'm frightened of what will happen to me 
if 1 get killed. 

JOAN. Paradise will happen to you. 
They are looking forward to having you 
with them. 

LA HIRE. That gives me heart, Madame 
Joan. I've always wanted to go to Paradise. 
But if it's all full of saints and bishops, I 
might not be too happy — 

JOAN. It's full of men like you. It's the 
others who are kept waiting at the gates — 
(Suddenly) The gates. The gates of 
Orleans. They're ahead of us — the day 
has come. La Hire. To horse, my boy, to 
horse. (She climbs on her stool. La Hire 
stands next to her. They hold imaginary reins 
in their hands as they ride imaginary horses) 
It's dawn. La Hire. The woods are still 
wet from the night, the trees are still dark 
and strange. It's fine to ride into battle 
with a good soldier by your side. 

LA HIRE. Some people don't like it. 
Some people like to make a little garden 
out of life and walk down a path. 

JOAN. But they never know what we 
know. (As ij she were puzzled and ashamed) 



Death has to be waiting at the end of the 
ride before you truly see the earth, and 
feel your heart, and love the world. 
(Suddenly^ in a whisper) There are three 
English soldiers. (She looks hack) We've 
outridden the others. We are alone. 

LA HIRE. Get off your horse, Madame 
Joan. Lead him back. You have never used 
your sword. 

JOAN. No. Don't meet them alone, 
La Hire — 

LA HIRE (he draws his sword). I'll kill 
them . . . Goddamned English bastards. 
(Sword in hand, he disappears.) 

JOAN (kneels in prayer) . Dear God, he 
is as good as bread. I answer for him. He's 
my friend. (She turns toward the Judges, 
angry, dejiant) The last word will not be 
spoken at this trial. La Hire will come to 
deliver me. He will bring three hundred 
lancers, I know them all, and they will 
take me from my prison — 

CAUCHON. Yes. They came to deliver 
you, Joan. 

JOAN (running to him) . Where are 
they? I knew they would come — 

CAUCHON. They came to the gates of 
the city. When they saw how many 
English soldiers were here, they turned 
and went away. 

JOAN (shaken). Ah. They turned and 
went away. Without fighting? (Cauchon 
turns away) Yes. Of course. It was / who 
taught them to do just that. I would say to 
them, "Have a little sense. It doesn't cost 
a sou. Learn not to be brave when you are 
outnumbered, unless — (Violently) That's 
what they did. They went to get rein- 
forcements for me — 

CAUCHON. No. Your friends will not 
return, Joan. 

JOAN. That's not true. "Learn not to 
be brave when you are outnumbered, ' ' I 
said, ^^ unless you can't retreat. Then you 
must fight because there is no other 
way — " (Proudly) La Hire will return. 
Because there is no other way to save me 
now. 

CAUCHON. La Hire sells himself to 
whichever prince has need. When he 
discovered that your Charles was tired of 
war and would sign any peace, he marched 
his men toward Germany. He looks for a 
new land on which to try his sword. 



I 12 



JEAN ANOUILH 



(Comes to her) You have been abandoned. 
It will sound strange to you, but the 
priests of this court are the only men Avho 
care for your soul and for your life. 
Humble yourself, Joan, and the Church 
will take your hand. In your heart, you 
are a child of the Church. 

JOAN (softly). Yes. 

CAUCHON. Trust yourself to the 
Church. She will weigh your deeds and 
take from you the agony of self- judgment. 

JOAN (after a long silence) . For that 
which is of the Faith, I turn to the Church, 
as I have always done. But what I am, I 
will not denounce. What I have done, I 
will not deny. 

(There is a shocked silence. Then there is great 
movement in the courtroom, as if this were the 
answer that would bring the judgment. The 
Inquisitor rises. The Priests are suddenly silent. 
The Inquisitor slowly moves before the Priests, 
peering into their faces. The Priests draw back, 
frightened.) 

THE INQUISITOR (to one Priest). Not 
you. (To another Priest) Not you. (To a 
third Priest) Not you. (Pauses before 
Cauchon, stares at him) And not you, 
Bishop of Beauvais. I have spoken of the 
great enemy, but not even now do you 
know his name. You do not understand 
on w^hom you sit in judgment, nor the 
issues of the judgment. I have told you 
that the Holy Inquisition is not concerned 
with royal rank or merchant gold or 
peasant birth. To us, a scholar in his room 
is equal in importance to an emperor in 
his palace. Because we know the name of 
our enemy. His name is natural man. 
(There is silence. Ladvenu moves forward) 
Can you not see that this girl is the symbol 
of that which is most to be feared? She is 
the enemy. She is man as he stands against 
us. Look at her. Frightened, hungry, 
dirty, abandoned by all, and no longer 
even sure that those Voices in the air ever 
spoke to her at all. Does her misery make 
her a suppliant begging God for mercy 
and for light? No. She turns away from 
God. She dares to stand under torture, 
thrashing about like a proud beast in the 
stable of her dungeon. She raises her 
eyes, not to God, but to man's image of 
himself. I have need to remind you. 



Master, that he who loves Man does not 
love God. 

LADVENU (with great force) . It cannot 
be. Jesus Himself became a man. 

THE INQUISITOR (turns to Cauchon) . 
Seigneur Bishop, I must ask you to send 
your young assessor from this courtroom. 
I will consider after this session whether 
he may return or whether I will bring 
charges against him . (Shouts) Against him, 
or against any other. Any other. I would 
bring charges against myself if God should 
let me lose my way. 

CAUCHON (softly). Leave us, Brother 
Ladvenu. 

LADVENU. Messire Inquisitor, I owe 
you obedience. I will not speak again. But 
I will pray to our Lord Jesus that you 
remember the weakness of your small, 
sad, lonely — enemy. 
(Ladvenu exits.) 

THE INQUISITOR. Do you have need to 
question her further? To ask all the heavy 
words that are listed in your legal papers ? 
What need to ask her why she still persists 
in wearing man's dress when it is contrary 
to the commandments? Why she dared 
the sin of living among men as a man? The 
deeds no longer matter. What she has 
done is of less importance than why she 
did it, the answers less important than the 
one answer. It is a fearful answer, "What 
I am, I will not ..." You wish to say it 
again? Say it. 

JOAN (slowly, softly) . What I am, I will 
not denounce. What I have done, I will 
not deny. 

THE INQUISITOR (carefully, as if he has 
taken the measure of an enemy) . You have 
heard it. Down through the ages, from 
dungeon, from torture chamber, from the 
fire of the stake. Ask her and she will say 
with those others, "Take my life. I will 
give it because I will not deny what I have 
done." This is what they say, all of them, 
the insolent breed. The men who dare 
our God. Those who say no to us — (He 
moves toward Joan. Cauchon ibises) Well, you 
and all like you shall be made to say yes. 
You put the Idea in peril, and that you 
will not be allowed to do. (Turns to the 
Judges) The girl is only a monstrous symbol 
of the faith decayed. Therefore I now 
demand her immediate punishment. I 



THE LARK 



113 



demand that she be excommunicated from 
the Church. I demand that she be returned 
to secular authority there to receive her 
punishment. I ask the secular arm to limit 
her sentence to this side of death and the 
mutilation of her members. 
(Cauchon moves to The Inquisitor as if to stop 
the judgment.) 

WARWICK (to Cauchon). A passionate 
man and so sincere. I think he means 
simply to throw the dirty work to me. I 
am the secular authority here. Why didn't 
your French Charles have her burned? It 
was his job. 

CHARLES (very disturbed) . I don't want 
to do it. 1 don't like killing. 
(A large ^ masked Jigure appears.) 

CAUCHON (calls to the masked man) . 
Master Executioner, is the wood for 
the stake dry and ready to burn? 

EXECUTIONER. All is ready. Things will 
go according to custom. But I will not be 
able to help the girl this time. 

CAUCHON. What do you mean help 
her, Master? 

EXECUTIONER. We let the first flames 
rise high. Then I climb up behind the 
victims and strangle them the rest of the 
way. It's easier and quicker for everybody. 
But I have had special instructions this 
time to make the fire very high. And so 
it will take longer and I will not be able 
to reach her for the act of mercy. 

CAUCHON (moves to Joan). Did you 
hear that ? 

JOAN. I've remembered a dream from 
years ago. I woke screaming and ran to my 
mother — (Screams as if in pain) Ah. 

CAUCHON (desperately) . Joan, for the 
last time I offer you the saving hand of 
your Mother Church. We wish to save 
you, but we can delay no longer. The 
crowd has been waiting since dawn. They 
eat their food, scold their children, make 
jokes, and grow impatient. You are 
famous and they have nothing better to 
do with their lives than bring garlands to 
the famous — or watch them bum. 

JOAN (as if she is still in the dream) . I 
forgive them, Messire. I forgive you, too. 

THE PROMOTER (furiously) . Monseig- 
neur speaks to you like a father in order to 
save your miserable soul and you answer 
by forgiving him. 



JOAN. Monseigneur speaks to me 
gently, he takes great pains to seduce me, 
but I do not know whether he means to 
save me or conquer me. In any case, he 
will be obliged to have me burned. 

CAUCHON (comes to her). For the last 
time I say: Confess your sins and return 
to us. We will save you. 

JOAN (she clings to his robe) . I wish to 
return to the Church. I want the Holy 
Communion. I have asked for it over and 
over again. But they have refused to give 
it to me. 

CAUCHON. After your confession, 
when you have begun your penance, we 
will give it to you. (There is no answer. Very 
softly) Are you not afraid to die ? 

JOAN. Yes. I am afraid. What difference 
does that make? I've always been so afraid 
of fire. (Gasps) I've remembered a 
dream — 

CAUCHON (pulls her to him) . Joan, we 
cannot believe in the Divinity of your 
Voices. But if we are wrong — and 
certainly that thought has crossed our 
minds — 

THE PROMOTER (furious) . No, I Say no. 
Even to you, my Bishop of Beauvais — 

CAUCHON (to Joan). But if we are 
wrong then we will have committed a 
monstrous sin of ignorance and we will 
pay for it the rest of our eternal lives. But 
we are the priests of your Church. Trust 
our belief that we are right, as you trusted 
your good village priest. Place yourself in 
our hands. You will be at peace. 

JOAN. I cannot follow what you say. 
I am tired. Oh, sire, I do not sleep at 
night. I come here and all is said so fast 
that I cannot understand. You torture me 
with such gentle words, and your voice 
is so kind. I would rather have you beat 
me — 

CAUCHON. I talk to you thus because 
my pride is less than yours. 

JOAN (she moves away from him, as if she 
were sick and wanted to be alone) . Pride ? 
I have been a prisoner so long — I think 
my head is sick and old, and the bottom 
of me does not hold any more. Sometimes 
I don't know where I am and my dungeon 
seems a great beech tree. I am hungry, or 
I was, and I want a taste of country milk — 

CAUCHON (desperately, as if he were at 



114 



JEAN ANOUILH 



the end). Look at me, Joan, keep your 
mind here. I am an old man. I have killed 
people in the defense of my beliefs. I am 
so close to death myself that I do not wish 
to kill again. I do not wish to kill a little 
girl. Be kind. (Cries out) Help me to save 

YOU. 

JOAN (very softly ; broken now) . What do 
you want me to say? Please tell me in 
simple words. 

CAUCHON. I am going to ask you three 
questions. Answer yes three times. That 
is all. (With passion) Help me, Joan. 

JOAN. But could I sleep a few hours, 
sire? 

CAUCHON. No! We cannot wait. Do 
you entrust yourself with humility to the 
Holy Roman and Apostolic Church, to 
our Holy Father, the Pope, and to his 
bishops? Will you rely upon them, and 
upon no one else, to be your judges? Do 
you make the complete and total act of 
submission? Do you ask to be returned 
to the bosom of the Church? 

JOAN. Yes, but — (The Inquisitor rises. 
Cauchon becomes nervous) I don't want to 
say the opposite of what my Voices told 
me. I don't ever want to bear false 
witness against Charlie. I fought so hard 
for the glory of his consecration. Oh, 
that was a day when he was crowned. 
The sun was out — 

CHARLES (to Joan) . It was a nice day 
and I'll always remember it. But I'd 
rather not think it was a divine miracle. 
I'd rather people didn't think that God 
sent you to me. Because now that you're 
a prisoner, and thought to be a heretic 
and a sorceress, they think that God has 
abandoned me. I'm in bad enough trouble 
without that kind of gossip. Just forget 
about me and go your way. 
(Joan bovi^s her head.) 

CAUCHON. Do you wish me to repeat 
the question? (Joan does not answer. 
Cauchon is angry) Are you mad? You 
understand now that we are your only 
protectors, that this is the last thing I can 
do for you? You cannot bargain and 
quibble like a peasant at a village fair. 
You are an impudent girl, and I now 
become angry with you. You should be 
on your knees to the Church. 

JOAN (falls to her knees) . Messire, deep 



in your heart do you believe that our 
Lord wishes me to submit to the 
judgment? 

CAUCHON. I so believe. 

JOAN (softly). Then I submit. 
(There is great movement in the court. The 
Inquisitor rises; The Promoter moves to him.) 

CAUCHON (verj tired now) . You promise 
to renounce forever the bearing of arms ? 

JOAN. But, Messire, there is still so 
much to do — 

CAUCHON (angrily). Nothing more 
will ever be done by you. 

WARWICK. That is true, Joan. 

CHARLES. And if you're thinking of 
helping me again, please don't. I won't 
ever use you any more. It would be very 
dangerous for me. 

JOAN (broken now, almost as if she were 
asleep). I renounce forever the bearing 
of arms. 

CAUCHON (in great haste). Do you 
renounce forever the wearing of that 
brazen uniform? 

JOAN. You have asked me that over 
and over again. The uniform doesn't 
matter. My Voices told me to put it on. 

THE PROMOTER. It was the Devil who 
told you to put it on. 

JOAN. Oh, Messire, put away the Devil 
for today. My Voices chose the uniform 
because my Voices have good sense. 
(With great effort) I had to ride with 
soldiers. It was necessary they not think of 
me as a girl. It was necessary they see in 
me nothing but a soldier like themselves. 
That is all the sense there was to it. 

CAUCHON. But why have you persisted 
in wearing it in prison? You have been 
asked this question in many examinations 
and your refusal to answer has become of 
great significance to your judges. 

JOAN. And I have asked over and over 
to be taken to a Church prison. Then I 
would take off my man's uniform. 

THE PROMOTER (to Cauchon) . Mon- 
seigneur, the girl is playing with us, as 
from the first. I do not understand what 
she says or why you — 

JOAN (angry). One doesn't have to be 
an educated man to understand what I am 
saying. 

THE PROMOTER (tums to Judges) . She 
says that she submits to the Church. But 



THE LARK 



11^ 



I tell you that as long as she refuses to put 
aside that Devil dress, I will exercise my 
rights as master judge of heretics and 
witchcraft. (To Cauchon) Strange pres- 
sures have been put upon all of us . 1 know 
not from where they come, but I tell 
even you — 

JOAN. I have said that if you put me in 
a Church prison I will take off this uniform 

THE PROMOTER. You will not bargain. 
Put aside that dress or, no matter who 
feels otherwise, you will be declared a 
sorceress. 

JOAN (softly^ to Cauchon). I am not 
alone in prison. Two English soldier 
guards are in the cell with me night and 
day. The nights are long. 1 am in chains. 
I try hard not to sleep, but sometimes I 
am too tired — (She stops, embarrassed) In 
this uniform it is easier for me to defend 
myself. 

CAUCHON (in great anger). Have you 
had so to defend yourself since the begin- 
ning of this trial ? 
(Warwick moves to Joan.) 

JOAN. Every night since I've been 
captured. I don't have much sleep. In the 
mornings, when I am brought before you, 
I am confused, and I don't understand 
your questions. I told you that. Sometimes 
I try to sleep here in the trial so that I will 
stay awake in the night — 

CAUCHON. Why heaven' t you told us 
this before? 

JOAN. Because the soldiers told me 
they would be hanged if I said anything — 

WARW^ICK (very angry) . They were 
right. (To Cauchon) Detestable bastards. 
It's disgusting. They've learned such 
things since they came to France. It may 
be all right in the French Army, but not 
in mine, (hows to Joan) I am sorry, 
Madame. It will not happen again. 

CAUCHON (to Joan) . The Church will 
protect you from now on. I promise you. 

JOAN. Then I agree to put on woman's 
dress. 

CAUCHON. Thank you, my child. That 
is all. (He moves to The Inquisitor) Messire 
Inquisitor, Brother Ladvenu drew up the 
Act of Renunciation. Will you permit 
me to recall him here? (With bitterness) 
The girl has said yes, this man has said yes. 
THE PROMOTER (to The Inquisitor). 



Messire Inquisitor, you are going to 
allow this to happen? 

THE INQUISITOR. If she Said yes, she 
has fulfilled the only condition that 
concerns me. 

THE PROMOTER (tums to Cauchon) . 
This trial has been conducted with an 
indulgence that is beyond my under- 
standing. (To The Inquisitor) I am told that 
there are those here who eat from the 
English manger. I ask myself now if they 
have arranged to eat better from the 
French manger. 

THE INQUISITOR (rises, moves toward 
Joan). It is not a question of mangers, 
Messire Promoter, /ask myself how did it 
happen that this girl said yes when so 
many lesser ones did not bow the head. 
I had not believed it to be possible. 
(Points to Cauchon) And why was tender- 
ness born in the heart of that old man 
who was her judge? He is at the end of a 
life worn out with compromise and 
debasement. Why now, here, for this 
girl, this dangerous girl, did his heart — 
(He kneels, ignoring the others. As he prays, 

Why, Oh 
. . ? Con- 
Glory . . . 



we hear 
Lord . . 



only the words . . .) 
. ? Why, Oh Lord . 
secrate it in peace to Your 
Your Glory — 

CAUCHON (as Ladvenu enters). Please 
read the act. 

LADVENU (comes to Joan. With great 
tenderness) . I have prayed for you, Joan. 
(Reading) "I, Joan, commonly called The 
Maid, confess having sinned through 
pride and malice in pretending to have 
received revelations from our Lord God. 
I confess I have blasphemed by wearing an 
immodest costume. I have incited men to 
kill through witchcraft and I here confess 
to it. I swear on the Holy Gospels I will 
not again wear this heretic's dress and I 
swear never to bear arms again. I declare 
that I place myself humbly at the mercy 
of our Holy Mother Church and our 
Holy Father, the Pope of Rome and His 
Bishops, so that they may judge my sins 
and my errors. I beseech Her to receive 
me in Her Bosom and I declare myself 
ready to submit to the sentence which 
She may inflict upon me. In faith of 
which, I have signed my name upon this 
Act of Renunciation of which I have full 



ii6 



JEAN ANOUILH 



knowledge. (Ladvenu hands the pen to Joan. 
She moves it in the air, as if she had not heard 
and did not understand. Ladvenu takes her 
hand and puts it on the paper) I will help 
you. 

CAUCHON (as if he were a very old man) . 
You have been saved. We, your judges, in 
mercy and mitigation, now condemn you 
to spend the remainder of your days in 
prison. There you will do penance for 
your sins. You will eat the bread of sorrow 
and drink the water of anguish until, 
through solitary contemplation, you 
repent. Under these conditions of pen- 
ance, we declare you delivered of the 
danger of excommunication. You may go 
in peace. (He makes the Sign oj the Cross) 
Take her away. 

(Cauchon stumbles and is helped bj Ladvenu. 
A Soldier pushes Joan away from the trial. 
The Judges rise and slowly move o^. Cauchon 
moves past Warwick.) 

WARWICK. There were several times, 
sire, when I thought I would have to 
interfere. My King must have what he 
paid for. But you were right and I was 
wrong. The making of a martyr is 
dangerous business. The pile of faggots, 
the invincible girl in the flames, might 
have been a triumph for the French 
spirit. But the apologies of a hero are sad 
and degrading. You did well, sire; you 
are a wise man. 

CAUCHON (with great bitterness). I did 
not mean to earn your praise. 
(Lie moves off. The lights dim on the trial as 
Warwick moves off. Four Soldiers appear with 
spears, and their spears become the bars of 
Joan s jail cell. Charles appears and stands 
looking at Joan through the bars.) 

CHARLES. I didn't want you to sacrifice 
yourself for me, Joan. I know you loved 
me, but i don't want people to love me. 
It makes for obligations. This filthy prison 
air is wet and stinks. Don't they ever 
clean these places? (Lie peers into her cell, 
sees the water pail that sits beside her, and 
draws back) Tell them to give you fresh 
water. My God, what goes on in this 
world. (She does not answer him) Don't you 
want to speak to me, Joan? 

JOAN. Good-bye, Charlie. 

CHARLES. You must stop calling me 



Charlie. Ever since my coronation I am 
careful to make everyone say sire. 

JOAN. Sire. 

CHARLES. I'll come and see you again. 
Good-bye. 

(Lie moves off. Joan lies in silence. Then she 
tries to drink from the water pail, retches, and 
puts her hand over her mouth as if she were 
very sick.) 

JOAN. Blessed Saint Michael. (She 
makes a strange sound, shivers) I am in 
prison. Come to me. Find me. (Cries out) 
I need you now. (Very loudly) I told you 
that I was afraid of fire, long before 1 ever 
knew — or did I always know? You want 
me to live? (When there is no answer) Why 
do I call for help? You must have good 
reason for not coming to me. (She 
motions toward courtroom) They think I 
dreamed it all. Maybe I did. But it's over 
now . . . 
(Warwick comes slowly into the cell.) 

WARWICK (hesitantly) . You are 
weeping? 

JOAN. No, Monseigneur, 

WARWICK. I am sorry to disturb you. 
I only came to say that I am glad you are 
saved. You behaved damned well. 1, er, 
well, it's rather difficult to say in my 
language, but the plain fact is that I like 
you. And it amused me to watch you 
with the Inquisitor. Sinister man, isn't 
he? I detest these intellectual idealists 
more than anything in the world. What 
disgusting animals they are. He wanted 
only to see you humiliate yourself, no 
matter your state or your misery. And 
when you did, he was satisfied. 

JOAN (softly). He had reason to be 
satisfied. 

WARWICK. Well, don't worry about 
him. It all worked out well. Martyrs are 
likely to stir the blood of simple people 
and set up too grand a monument to 
themselves. It's all very complex and 
dangerous. Tell me, are you a virgin? 

JOAN. Yes. 

WARWICK. I knew you were. A 
woman would not talk as you do. My 
fiancee in England is a very pure girl and 
she also talks like a boy. You are the 
greatest horsewoman I have ever seen. 
(When there is no answer) Ah, well. I am 
intruding on you. Don't hesitate to let 



THE LARK 



117 



me know if I can ever do anything for you. 
Good-bye, madame. 

JOAN. Nobody else came to see me 
here. You are a kind man, Monseigneur. 

WARWICK. Not at all. (Motions toward 
courtroom) It's that I don't like all those 
fellows who use words to make war. You 
and I killed because that was the way 
things turned out for us. 

JOAN. Monseigneur, I have done 
wrong. And I don't know how or why I 
did it. (Slowly, bitterly) I swore against 
myself. That is a great sin, past all 
others — (Desperately) I still believe in all 
that 1 did, and yet I swore against it. God 
can't want that. What can be left for me? 

WARWICK. Certainly they are not 
going to make you a gay life, not at first. 
But things work out and in time your 
nasty little Charles might even show you 
a speck of loyalty — 

JOAN. Yes, when I am no longer 
dangerous, he might even give me a small 
pension and a servant's room at court. 

WARWICK (sharply). Madame, there 
will be no court. 

JOAN. And I will wear cast-ofF brocade 
and put jewels in my hair and grow old. 
I will be happy that few people remember 
my warrior days and I will grovel before 
those who speak of my past and pray them 
to be silent. And when I die, in a big fat 
bed, I will be remembered as a crazy girl 
who rode into battle for what she said she 
believed, and ate the dirt of lies when she 
was faced with punishment. That will be 
the best that I can have — if my little 
Charles remembers me at all. If he doesn't 
there will be a prison dungeon, and filth 
and darkness — (Cries out) What good is 
life either way? 

WARWICK. It is good any way you can 
have it. We all try to save a little honor, 
of course, but the main thing is to be 
here — 

JOAN (rises, calls out, speaking to the 
Voices) . I was only bom the day you first 
spoke to me. My life only began on the 
day you told me what I must do, my 
sword in hand. You are silent, dear my 
God, because you are sad to see me 
frightened and craven. And for what? A 
few years of unworthy life. (She kneels. 
Softly, as if she is answering a message) I 



know. Yes, I know. I took the good days 
from You and refused the bad. I know. 
Dear my God forgive me, and keep me 
now to be myself. Forgive me and take 
me back for what I am. (She rises. She 
is happy and cheerful) Call your soldiers, 
Warwick. I deny my confession. 

WARWICK. Joan. No nonsense, please. 
Things are all right as they are. I — 

JOAN. Come. 
(She holds out her hand to him.) 

WARWICK. I don't want anything to 
do with your death. 

JOAN (smiles). You have a funny 
gentleman's face. But you are kind. Come 
now. (She calls out) Soldiers ! English- 
men ! Give me back my warrior clothes. 
And when I have put them on, call back 
all the priests. (Stops, puts her hands in 
prayer and speaks simply) Please God, help 
me now. 

(The music of the ^^Sanctus^^ begins as the 
Judges, Cauchon, The Inquisitor, The Promoter 
Charles, the People of the Court, return to the 
stage. Two Soldiers bring a crude stake. Joan 
herself moves to the stake and the Soldiers lash 
her to it. Other Soldiers and Village Women 
pick up the bundles of faggots and carry them 
offstage. The Executioner appears with lighted 
torch and moves through the crowd.) 

JOAN (as they are about to carry her off). 
Please. Please. Give me a Cross. 

THE PROMOTER. No Cross will be 
given to a witch. 

AN ENGLISH SOLDIER (he has taken two 
sticks of wood and made a Cross. Now he 
hands his Cross to Joan). Here, my 
daughter. Here's your Cross. (Very angry, 
to The Promoter) She has a right to a Cross 
like anybody else. 

(Joan is carried off stage. The lights dim and 
we see fames — or the shadows of fames — as 
they are projected on the cyclorama. Ladvenu 
runs on stage with a Cross from the church and 
stands holding it high for Joan to see.) 

THE INQUISITOR (calling to Executioner) . , 
Be quick. Be quick. Let the smoke hide 
her. (To Warwick) In five minutes, Mon- 
seigneur, the world will be crying. 

WARWICK. Yes. 

THE INQUISITOR (shouting to Exe- 
cutioner). Be quick, master, be quick. 

EXECUTIONER (calling in to him) . All is 
ready, messire. The flames reach her now. 



ii8 



JEAN ANOUILH 



LADVENU (calling out). Courage, Joan. 
We pray for you. 

CAUCHON. May God forgive us all. 
(Cauchon Jails to his knees and begins the 
prayer for the dead. The prayers are murmured 
as the chorus chants a Requiem. The Soldiers 
and the Village People return to the stage: a 
Womanjalls to the ground; a Soldier cries out; 
a Girl bends over as if in pain and a Soldier 
helps her to move on; the Court Ladies hack 
away, hiding their faces from the burning ; the 
Priests kneel in prayer.) 

CHARLES (in a whisper as he leaves). 
What does she do? What does she say? 
Is it over? 

THE INQUISITOR (to Ladvenu) . What 
does she do? 

LADVENU. She is quiet. 

THE INQUISITOR (moves away) . Is her 
head low^ered? 

LADVENU. No, messire. Her head is 
high. 

THE INQUISITOR (as if he were in pain). 
Ah. (To Ladvenu) She falters now^? 

LADVENU. No. It is a terrible and noble 
sight, messire. You should turn and see. 

THE INQUISITOR (moves off) . I have seen 
it all before. ; 

(The lights dim. Cauchon rises from his 
prayers. He stumbles and falls. Ladvenu and 
Warwick move to help him. He takes Lad- 
venu' s arm, but moves away from Warwick, 
refusing his help. As the stage becomes dark, 
Cauchon, The Promoter, Ladvenu and War- 
wick move downstage and the light comes up 
on La Hire who stands above them. La Hire is 
in full armor, holding helmet and sword.) 

LA HIRE. You w^ere fools to bum Joan 
of Arc. 

CAUCHON. We committed a sin, a 
monstrous sin. 

WARWICK. Yes, it was a grave mistake. 
We made a lark into a giant bird who 
will travel the skies of the world long 



after our names are forgotten, or con- 
fused, or cursed down. 

LA HIRE. I knew the girl and I loved 
her. You can't let it end this way. If you 
do, it will not be the true story of Joan. 

LADVENU. That is right. The true story 
of Joan is not the hideous agony of a girl 
tied to a burning stake. She will stand 
forever for the glory that can be. Praise 
God. 

LA HIRE. The true story of Joan is the 
story of her happiest day. Anybody with 
any sense knows that. Go back and act it 
out. 

(The lights dim on the four men and come up 
on the Coronation of Charles in Reims 
Cathedral. The altar cloth is in place, the 
lighted candles are behind the altar, stained 
glass windows are projected on the cyclorama. 
The Archbishop appears, and the people of the 
royal court. Joan stands clothed in afne white 
robe, ornamented with a fleur-de-lis.) 

WARWICK (moves into the coronation 
scene, stares bewildered as Charles, in 
coronation robes, carrying his crown, crosses 
to the altar) . This could not have been her 
happiest day. To watch Holy Oil being 
poured on that mean, sly little head ! 

CHARLES (turns to Warwick, amused) . 
Oh, I didn't turn out so bad. I drove you 
out of the country. And I got myself some 
money before I died. I was as good as 
most. 

WARWICK. So you were. But certainly 
the girl would never have ridden into 
battle, never have been willing to die 
because you were as good as most. 

JOAN (comes forward, smiling, happy). 
Oh, Warwick, I wasn't paying any 
attention to Charlie. I knew what Charlie 
was like. I wanted him crowned because 
I wanted my country back. And God gave 
it to us on this Coronation Day. Let's end 
with it, please, if nobody would mind. 
(As the curtain falls the chorus sings the 
'^Gloria'' of the Mass.) 



IVAN TURGENEV's 



A Month in the Country 



In the adaptation by Emlyn Williams 



First presented by The Phoenix Theatre (T. Edward Hambleton and Norris Houghton), 
New York, on April 3, 19^6, with the following cast: 



SHAAF Lou Gilbert 

ANNA SEMYENOVNA YSLAEVA Mary Morris 

LiZAVETA BOGDANOVNA Ann Hennessey 

NATALIA PETROVNA Uta Hagen 

RAKiTiN Alexander Scourby 

KOLIA Tony Atkins 

BELiAEV Al Hedison 



MATVEi Stefan Gierasch 

A FOOTMAN Sorrell Booke 

IGNATY ILLYICH SHPiGHELSKY Luther Adler 

VERA Olga Bielinska 

YSLAEV Michael Strong 

KATIA Anne Meara 

BOLSHiNTSov Martin Wolfson 



Directed by Michael Redgrave 



I 



© 1943, by Emlyn Williams 

Published by William Heinemann Ltd., London, 1943. 

Reprinted by permission of Mr. Emlyn Williams and through the kind offices of Brandt and Brandt, 

New York, N.Y. 

CAUTION : The performing rights of this adaptation are fully protected, and permission to perform it 
must be obtained in advance : by professional and amateur companies in Great Britain, from Margery 
Vosper Ltd., 32 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W. i ; in the United States, from Brandt & Brandt, loi Park 

Avenue, New^ York, N.Y. 



I20 IVAN TURGENEV 

ACT ONE 

SCENE ONE thefiutter of }^ alalia s fan ^ as she listens to the 

music. The music comes to an end. A pause. 

While the curtain is still down Vera is heard 
playing at the pianoforte in the ballroom: a 

mazurka of Chopin. A pause. The Curtain SHAAF. Har-r-tz. 

rises slowly. anna. Hearts again? If this goes on, my 

The drawing-room of Yslaev^ s house on his friend, you'll have the clothes off our 

estate in the country near Moscow^ Russia; a backs 

summer afternoon. An almost triangular view SHAAF (phlegmaticallyj . Eight har-r-tz. 

of the room, with in the left wall (^left^ and ANNA (to Lizaveta) . Did you ever know 

''right' throughout refer to the audience's left such a madcap? I declare, there's no 

and right) large French window opening on to playing with him 

the garden, and in the right wall (up a step LIZAVETA (smiling and nodding). None 

and beyond pillars) folding doors (opening at all . , . (Snifjingfrom a box) So true 

onstage) leading to the ballroom; a smaller ANNA. And you stop taking snuff, I've 

window to the left of them; to the right of them, told you how bad it is for you. 

an entrance leading off right, presumably to LIZAVETA. Just this once . . . 

the hall, the dining-room, and the stairs; to (A pause.) 

the right again, this side of the pillars and NATALIA (to Rakitin) . Why have you 

nearer the audience, a smaller door leading to stopped reading? 

the study. The room is beautifully furnished , rakitin (reading). 'Monte-Cristo se 

the native Russian merging into great elegance redressa haletant'. . . (Looking up at her) 

of detail (markedly French in influence). Are you interested? 

revealing the taste of a well-bred young NATALIA. No. 

hostess. On the left, between the windows and rakitin. Then why ask me to plough 

the audience, a desk and desk-chair; a table; through 

in the angle between the French windows and NATALIA. It's perfectly simple why. 

the pillars, a tall ornamented Russian stove; an The other day a woman said to me 'Have 

armchair; a Recamier sofa; a footstool; a long you read Monte-Cristo — my dear, you must, 

stool; a mirror over the desk. it's captivating ! ' I didn't say a w^ord at the 

It is a beautiful summer afternoon, in the early time, but now I shall be able to tell her I 

forties of the last century. have read it, and that it isn't captivating 

At the table are seated Anna Semyenovna at all. Do go on. 

Yslaeva (Yslaev's mother), a fussy old lady kakitin (looking for his place in the book) . 



w 



ho is used to her own way: Lizaveta 'Se redressa haletant, et- 

Bogdanovna (her companion), thirty-seven, NATALIA. Have you seen Arkady today? 

whose looks have long ago grown shabby RAKITIN. Yes, ran into him working by 

through an incessant anxious desire to please the dam. 

her betters: and Shaaf a middle-aged German NATALIA. Was ever a woman blessed 

tutor, ugly, slow and stupid. They are playing withsuchapillar of industry for a husband? 

preference. At some distance from them are RAKITIN. He wanted to explain 

Natalia and Rakitin. She is a beautiful something to the workmen, and walked 

exquisite creature of twenty-nine, elegantly into the sand right up to his knees. 

posed on the sofa; he is a fne-looking NATALIA. How like him . . . He attacks 

thoughtful man, of great breeding, a year or everything with too much enthusiasm — 

two older. He sits on the footstool , almost at he tries too hard. And I consider that a 

her feet, a book open on his knees, looking at fault. Don't you agree? 

her; she has laid down her embroidery and is rakitin. Yes, I do. 

fanning herself. NATALIA. Oh, how boring of you . . . 

A pause; the music begins again. For a You always agree with me. Read me more. 

space of time cfter the curtain rises, the only shaaf (as Rakitin turns over pages), 

movement is thefngers of the card-players and Har-r-tz. 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



I2I 



ANNA. What, again? Really, Shaaf, this 
is not to be borne ! (To Natalia) Daughter- 
in-law, do you know what — daughter-in- 
law! 

NATALIA (paying attention with di^culty) . 
Yes? 

ANNA. What do you think, dear, our 
Prussian friend's beating us with the most 
monstrous tactics 

SHAAF. Und now aggin zeven har-r-tz. 
(He has a strong German accent) 

ANNA (rising and gathering up the cards) . 
We're changing over to whist . . . (To 
Natalia) But where's our little treasure? 

NATALIA. Kolia? Gone for a walk with 
his new tutor. 

ANNA. Ah . . . Now whist — (smartly 
flicking cards) — Lizaveta Bogdanovna, 
you're my partner 

LIZAVETA. Oh, do you mean it — an 
honor 

RAKITIN (to Natalia). Did you say 
something about a new tutor? 

NATALIA. We acquired one while you 
were aw^ay, for general knowledge. 

RAKITIN. Another old fogey? 

NATALIA. No . . . My dear, I tell you 
what — you know how you love watching 
people, probing like a dentist into their 
innermost thoughts 

RAKITIN. Oh come 

NATALIA. I want you to focus your 
attention on him. 

RAKITIN. The new tutor? Why? 

NATALIA. Because I like him. 

RAKITIN. Describe him to me. 

NATALIA. Oh . . . well. Tall. Fair. 
Very young . . . 

RAKITIN. Yes? 

NATALIA. Very good eyes, that look 
straight at you, with an expression of great 
liveliness. 

RAKITIN. Yes? 

NATALIA. The whole face bears a 
marked air of vigor — something 

RAKITIN. Go on. 

NATALIA. Something — forceful . . .but 
you'll see for yourself. There's one thing, 
though — his manner's a trifle gauche, and 
that's a grave defect in the eyes of a man 
of the world like you. 

RAKITIN. I'm not in your good books 
today, I can see that 

NATALIA. Seriously, Rakitin, do have a 



look at him, it's my opinion he has the 
makings of a fine man. Though Heaven 
knows, it's early to say 

RAKITIN. You have whetted my 
curiosity. 

NATALIA. I'm so glad . . . Shall we 
read? 

RAKITIN (reading). 'Se redressa 
haletant, et ' 

NATALIA. But where's Vera? I haven't 
set eyes on her since this morning . . . 
(As Rakitin shuts his book) Ah . . . Tell me 
some news, 

RAKITIN. What do you wish to hear? 
About my visit to the Krinitsins ? 

NATALIA. If you like. How are our 
newlyweds ? 

RAKITIN. Time lies heavy on their 
hands. 

NATALIA. Already? Jamais! But how 
did you find out? 

RAKITIN. Can one conceal boredom? 
Everything else, but boredom ... no. 

NATALIA (looking at him). Can one 
conceal — everything else ? 

RAKITIN. I think so. 
(A pause. She looks away.) 

NATALIA. What did you do there? 

RAKITIN. Nothing; I was bored too, 
and to be bored by one's friends is a 
calamity. One feels at ease and relaxed, 
one breathes an air of affection . . . and 
one is bored. To extinction. The heart 
aches stupidly, as if it were hungry. 

NATALIA. A clever man like you must 
often find the world very dull 

RAKITIN (quietly, with meaning) . You're 
talking as if you had no idea what it felt 
like to live with a creature whom you 
love and who bores you. 

NATALIA. 'Love' is a big word . . . 
You're a subtle creature, Rakitin, aren't 
you? 

RAKITIN. Am I? 

NATALIA. Oversubtle, in fact; it's your 
Achilles heel. You're as clever as a 
cartload of old professors. Sometimes, 
when you and I are talking, I feel we're 
just . . . making lace. 

RAKITIN. Lace? 

NATALIA. Have you ever watched 
women making lace? They sit in stuffy 
rooms, and never move an inch to the 
left or to the right. Lace is a lovely thing. 



122 



IVAN TURGENEV 



but on a hot day I'd sooner have a drink 
of icy fresh water. 

RAKiTiN. Natalia Petrovna, you're 
annoyed with me. 

NATALIA. Am I? 

RAKITIN. I don't know quite why, but 
you are. 

NATALIA, when men pride themselves 
on their subtlety, they have even less 
insight than when they don't . . , No, 
I'm not annoyed with you 

ANNA. At last! He's overreached 
himself — (rising) — played right into our 
hands! The rascal's overreached himself! 

My luck's turned, where 's my purse ■ 

(She crosses and rummages in the desk) 

SHAAF (sulkily). It iss de fault von 
Lizaveta Bogdanovna. 

LIZAVETA (annoyed). Oh, I protest! 
How was I to know that Anna Semyenovna 
had no hearts? 

(During this, Rakitin rises , walks, then turns 
and surveys Natalia.) 

SHAAF. In de future, vid Lizaveta 
Bogdanovna as my partner, I do not play. 
(He counts his winnings and writes figures in 
a pocket-hook) 

LIZAVETA. That suits me to a T, Herr 
Shaaf . . . Well, upon my word! 

ANNA (calling). Shuffle the cards, 
Lizaveta Bogdanovna, and stop airing your 
views ! 

RAKITIN (to Natalia) . The more I look 
at you today, the less I recognize you. 
You've changed, in some way 

NATALIA. Really? How interesting. 
(Kolia runs in from the garden, and hurries to 
Anna Semyenovna . He is an attractive child of 
ten.) 

KOLIA. Granny! Granny! (Covering her 
eyes with one hand) Guess what I've got ! 

ANNA. Now let me think — what can 
Granny's little treasure have for 
Grannv ! . . . (As Kolia uncovers her eyes 
and brings out a how and arrows from behind 
his back) Oh, what a lovely toy ! Now who 
made this for you? 

KOLIA (pointing to the garden) . He did ! 
(Rakitin turns. Beliaev appears shyly at the 
windows. He is a slight personable youth of 
twenty-one, carefully but shabbily dressed ; at 
the moment he is particularly coltish and 
self-conscious, but once he is at ease with people 
of his own age, all that breaks down and he 



becomes a high-spirited impressionable student. 
He carries books.) 

ANNA. Really, it's beautifully put 
together — (rising and going back to the 
others) — and now to work 

KOLIA. D'you know what, Granny? I 
shot with it, twice. Granny, twice ! I 
aimed at a tree, Granny, and I hit it ! Both 
times, Granny! Both times 

NATALIA. Shovs^ me, Kolia. 

KOLIA (running to her and giving her the 
bow to examine) . Oh, Mamma, you should 
see the way he climbs trees, better than a 
squirrel — and he wants to teach me the 
w^ay to, and he wants to teach me how to 
swim on my back . . . He's going to teach 
me everything there is, everything in the 
world, Mamma! 

NATALIA (to Beliaev). It's so very kind 
of you to take such pains with him. I'm 
extremely obliged. 
(Beliaev bows to her.) 

KOLIA (running to Beliaev) . Let's run as 
far as the stables, Alexei Nikolaich, shall 
we ? And take some bread for Favorite ! 

BELIAEV. Shall we? That's a good 
idea 

ANNA (as Kolia runs out by the windows) . 
Come and give Granny a kiss first, 
darling 

KOLIA (in the garden) . Later, Granny, 

later 

(Beliaev smiles sheepishly at Rakitin and 
Natalia and follows Kolia into the garden.) 

ANNA. What a little pet that child is, 
what a charmer! ... (To Shaaf and 
Lizaveta Bogdanovna, insistently) Don't you 
agree ? 

LIZAVETA. An angel, no more no 
less 

SHAAF. Boodiful, boodiful — pass. 

NATALIA (to Rakitin). Well, what did 
you think of him ? 

RAKITIN. Think of whom? 

NATALIA. Why, the new tutor! You 
are provoking 

RAKITIN. Let me see, his eyes — yes, 
it's a good face. He seems very shy, 
doesn't he? 

NATALIA. I tell you what, Rakitin! 
Let's make a hobby of him ! 

RAKITIN. How do you mean? 

NATALIA. Complete his education! It's 
a unique chance for sedate, sensible 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



123 



people like us to exercise our virtues. 
You and I are eminently sensible, are we 
not? 

RAKiTiN. You find this boy interesting? 
He'd be flattered if he knew. 

NATALIA. Ah, would he? I'm afraid, 
my dear, just because you and I study 
ourselves with the greatest industry, we 
bask in the belief that we knovv^ all about 
everybody else. But he isn't like us, not 
the least little bit. 

RAKITIN. You're perfectly right. The 
soul of another man is a dark forest . . . 

NATALIA (ironically). So true, so 
true . . . 

RAKITIN. why are you continually 
mocking me ? 

NATALIA. If one can't tease one's 
friends, whom can one tease? And you're 
my friend. (Pressing his hand) My old 
friend. As if you didn't know — ce que 
vous etes pour moi. 

RAKITIN. Natalia Petrovna, you play 
with me like a cat w^ith a mouse ! 

NATALIA. Oh, do I? 

ANNA. That means I've won twenty 
from you, Adam Ivanych — things are on 
the mend! 

SHAAF. In de future, vid Lizaveta 
Bogdanovna as my partner, I do not play. 
(Matvei enters Jrom the ballroom. He is a 
manservant^ about forty .) 

MATVEi (announcing). Ignaty Illyich 
Shpighelsky ! 

(Doctor Shpighelsky JoUows on his heels. He is 
a big^ attractive jlorid man^ with tremendous 
personality ; behind his social manner — in 
which breezy exuberance alternates with 
portentous solemnity^ the manner of a born 
comedian — he hides a sly, watchful and 
sardonic nature. It is clear from everybody's 
reaction to him that he is accepted as a great 
wag.) 

THE DOCTOR. Stuff and nonsense, man, 
you don't announce a doctor, it'll be the 
undertaker next! (As Anna laughs, and 
Matvei goes back, closing the doors, stifling a 
smile) My undying regards to one and all, 
and all and one ! (Kissing Anna's hand) And 
how is our charming duenna? Making her 
fortune ? 

ANNA. Fortune, the idea 

THE DOCTOR. The season's greetings 



to Natalia Petrovna, and ditto — (to 
Rakitin) — to Mihail Alexandrovitch ! 

NATALIA. How are you. Doctor, are 
you well? 

THE DOCTOR. 'How are you, Doctor, 
are you well' — now what a question, I ask 
you! What else can a physician do, but 
burst with health? No doctor worth his 
salt ever gets ill — he just dies. (Taking 
snuff) 

NATALIA. Do sit doWTl . . . 

THE DOCTOR (sitting in the armchair). 
And what oiyour health, good lady? 

NATALIA. Sound enough, Doctor, but 
I'm in a bad mood today. And that's a 
kind of disorder, isn't it? 

THE DOCTOR (rising). Ah me, ah me, 
lackaday . . . (With mock seriousness , feeling 
her pulse) Do you know^ what's the matter 
with you, Natalia Petrovna? 

NATALIA. No, what? 

THE DOCTOR. Too serious-minded. 

NATALIA (rapping him with her fan) . Oh ! 

THE DOCTOR. There's nothing like a 
good laugh for bustling up the circulation. 
(Sitting again) Though a couple of my 
special pink drops won't do you any harm. 

NATALIA. But I'm more than willing to 
laugh. Now, Doctor, you've a tongue like 
a rapier — which is what I like and respect 
you for — tell me something amusing — 
vite! 

THE DOCTOR. At your scrvicc, peerless 
lady. Though I wasn't prepared to be held 
up for jokes at the point of a pistol — 
blindfold but unbowed, I walk the 
plank . . . 

RAKITIN (sitting on the footstool) . Ah . . . 

THE DOCTOR. You know Verenitsin 
Platon- Vassilevitch ? 

NATALIA. I know whom you mean, 
yes 

THE DOCTOR. Well, he has a mad 
sister. 'Smatter o' fact, they're so dead 
alike that if she's mad he must be too, and 
if he's sane then she's no lunatic, but 
that's neither here nor there ; all we know 
is that over every man jack of us there 
hovers the inscrutable — if rather grubby 
— finger of Fate ; only the other day, with 
my own fair hands, I poured a basin of 
cold water over the lady, and when she 
was dried she was madder than ever — but 
still . . . Her brother has a daughter, a 



124 



IVAN TURGENEV 



greeny-colored wench with pale little 
eyes, a red little nose and the chance of 
inheriting three hundred serfs from 
Auntie, which makes her perfect. Lunatics 
live for ever, so Auntie looks like being 
with us for quite a time, but one hopes 
for the best — anyway Papa claps her on 
the market, and various eligibles bob up : 
among them a certain Perekusov, thin as 
a rake and shy as a rabbit, but the highest 
principles. Papa fancies him, Miss fancies 
him, slap the young codger on the back, 
prod him in the belly, and publish the 
banns . . . But wait! Scene, the Grand 
Marshal's Ball, gaiety at its height; hey 
presto, jack-in-the-box-out-of-the-blue, 
Ardalion Protobekassov . . . (clicking his 
heels) ... an officer! 

NATALIA. Ahh . . . 

THE DOCTOR. 'Mademoiselle, may I 
have the honor . . .' (clicking his heels) 
One polka. Two more polkas. (Clicking 
his heels, smartly, twice) Then we sit out, 
the military eyes start rolling like drums, 
and mademoiselle's head is turned as neat 
as a water-tap, swish . . . Tears, moans, 
breathe the word 'wedding' and she goes 
into a series of elegant fits. 'Bless my 
soul,' thinks Papa, 'well, if she wants the 
officer, I'll prove I'm her great-hearted 
father, anyway he^ s got money too.' So in 
the twinkling of a bed-post the officer is 
invited, does a pinch of courting, offers 
hand and heart. And then . . . what? 

NATALIA. Happy ever after ? 

THE DOCTOR. That's what jou think. 
Tears and fits again, a terrible rumpus. 
This time Papa's completely at sea. 'Now 
look here, my girl, which of 'em do you 
want?' And what d'you think her answer 
is? 

RAKiTiN. What? 

THE DOCTOR. 'Papa, I've no idea . . . 
and yet my distress is profound. I am a 
woman who loves two men at the same 
time.' 

(An awkward pause. He studies his jinger-nails. 
Rakitin rises slowly.) 

And there we are, that's the sort of thing 
goes on in these parts. 

NATALIA (as he takes snuj[) . I don't find 
it so staggering. Cannot one love two 
people at once? 

RAKITIN. You think so? 



NATALIA (catching his eye, then rising and 
walking slowly to the windows) . I don't 
know, though — perhaps it proves you 
don't really love either. 

THE DOCTOR (catching her eye). 
Exactly — hit the nail on the head. 

ANNA (rising) . My legs have gone to 
sleep, but I've got my money back . . . 
Ah! (To Shaaf) You owe me seventy 
kopeks, I'm going to do the fleecing for a 
change . . . (Walking towards the hall) 
Forty winks before tea, that game's killed 
me — worth it, though — quick march, 
Liza, don't dawdle 

LIZAVETA (rising, and scrabbling about on 
the card table). Coming — I'm filling your 
reticule 

ANNA. My legs, my legs . . . 
(She goes out into the hall. Natalia comes 
down, sits at the desk, takes up a brush, and 
makes idle strokes on a watercolor propped on 
the desk.) 

THE DOCTOR. Lizaveta Bogdanovna, 
snuff? 

LIZAVETA (simpering) . I oughtn't to . . . 

THE DOCTOR. Comc, give that devil in 
you a chance ! 

LIZAVETA. Oh, Doctor . . , 

anna's voice (in the hall, as Lizaveta 
takes a pinch) . Liza ! 

LIZAVETA (calling). Coming! 
(She sneezes, and hurries into the hall. Shaaf 
collects the cards.) 

THE DOCTOR (to Rakitin, quietly). So 
you've no idea what is the matter with her 
today ? 

rakitin. Not the faintest. 

THE DOCTOR. Well, if you don't 
know . . . 

(Rakitin meets his eyes, goes up humming, and 
plays an idle game of patience ; Shaaf is still 
writing in his pocket-book. The Doctor clears 
his throat and crosses to Natalia.) 

THE DOCTOR (with false bonhomie). Er 
— Natalia Petrovna ! I have a little matter 
of business to go into with you . . . 

NATALIA (painting) . Business ? Monsieur 
le Diplomate, you make me quite nervous ! 

THE DOCTOR. Actually, it's to do with 
a third party. A crony of mine. 

NATALIA, Do I know him? 

THE DOCTOR. You do indeed ! He is no 
less than your neighbor. 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



i2ir 



NATALIA (still painting). Old 

Bolshintsov ? Yes ? 

THE DOCTOR. He has asked me to find 
out what your plans are for your ward. 
(Natalia turns and stares at him. J 

NATALIA. For Vera Alexandrovna ? 

THE DOCTOR. Not to put too fine a 
point, this crony of mine 

NATALIA. You don't mean to say he 
wants to marry her? 

THE DOCTOR. The whole thing in a 
nutshell. 

NATALIA. You're being facetious, aren't 
you? 

THE DOCTOR. I'm not, for a change. 

NATALIA. But my dear man, she's a 
child ! (Laughing) What a fantastic errand ! 

THE DOCTOR. Oh, I don't see why — 
my friend 

NATALIA, of course one mustn't forget 
that almost before you're a doctor, you're 
a business man 

THE DOCTOR (joviallj). You slander 
me, dear lady 

NATALIA, who is xhis friend of yours. 
Monsieur le Diplomate? 

THE DOCTOR. Excuse me, you haven't 
given me any indication 

NATALIA. But really. Doctor, I've told 

you, she's a child 

(Vera and Kolia run injrom the garden, from 
the left of the windows; Vera is a beautiful 
immature girl of seventeen, timid and highly 
strung.) 

KOLIA (running to Rakitin) . Could we 
have some glue, do you think? Could we 
have some glue ? 

RAKITIN (to Kolia). And what d'you 
want with glue, suddenly? 
(Vera curtseys breathlessly to The Doctor, and 
sits.) 

KOLIA. Oh, it's necessary, sir, absolutely 
essential — what d'you think my new 
tutor's making for me? A kite — so we 
must have some glue, mustn't we^may 
we? 

RAKITIN (about to ring the bell). In a 
twinkl ing 

SHAAF. Erlauben Sie . . . Monsieur 
Kolia has not his Cherman lesson today 
prepared. (Taking Kolia' s hand) Kommen 
Sie 

KOLIA (imploring) . Tomorrow — mor- 



gen, morgen (Struggling) No, Herr 

Shaaf — please 

NATALIA. Kolia! 

RAKITIN (to Natalia). It's rather a 
shame, they're making a kite, and he's 
being kidnapped for a German lesson 

SHAAF (with dignity) . Gnadige Frau 

NATALIA (severely, to Kolia) . Kolia, 
you've had quite enough tearing around 
for one day 

KOLIA. But, maman 

NATALIA. Do you hear me ? 

KOLIA (whispering, to Rakitin) . Try and 
get us some glue, sir, will you, please? 
Cross my heart, sir? Please? 

SHAAF. Kommen Sie — yonk vicked 

man — yonk vicked man 

(He pilots Kolia into the ballroom. Rakitin 
follows them. Vera rises and walks.) 

NATALIA (seeing her). Vera my dear, 
how flushed you are! I haven't seen you 
since this morning. What have you been 
doing all this time? 

VERA. I've been with the new tutor. 

NATALIA (after a pause, looking at her). 
Really? 

VERA. Oh, and Kolia . . . 

NATALIA. Sit down, dear, you must be 
worn out. 

THE DOCTOR ( OS Vera obeys). But 
running about is good for one, at that age. 

NATALIA. Oh . . . Ah well. Doctor, 
you know best ... (To Vera) Tell me 
what you did in the garden. 
(She crosses and sits in the armchair. The 
Doctor watches them.) 

VERA. We played games, then he 
climbed a tree 

NATALIA. Kolia? Never 

VERA. No no, the — new tutor. He was 
chasing a squirrel and he climbed up and 
up, till he could shake the top — we felt 
quite frightened — then he made a bow- 
and-arrow for Kolia, — then he betted me 
that I couldn't play a mazurka, and I won, 
then we ran out again, and then — oh, I 
don't think I ought to tell you 

NATALIA. But I insist 

VERA. He crept up to one of your 
cows, made one leap, and landed on her 
back. She was so surprised she jumped 
five feet and spun round like a mad old 
top, and he laughed so much he fell off, 
and we laughed till we cried, then he said 



126 



IVAN TURGENEV 



he'd make a kite, and that's why we 
came in. 

NATALIA (patting her cheek J . What a 
child . . . Don't you agree, Doctor? 

THE DOCTOR. But I don't think it 
matters. On the contrary. 

NATALIA. Don't you? 
(Vera looks at her, puzzled and disconcerted.) 

THE DOCTOR. Bother — I've suddenly 
remembered — your coachman's on the 
sick list, and I haven't looked at him yet 
— (going) — pray excuse me 

NATALIA. He looks as fit as a fiddle to 
me, rosy cheeks 

THE DOCTOR. Fever, dear lady, can be 
very deceptive. 

(He goes out into the hall as Rakitin returns 
from the ballroom.) 

NATALIA (rising, to Vera). Mon enfant, 
vous feriez bien de mettre une autre robe 
pour diner. 

VERA (stammering). What — (rising) — 
oh. . . 

NATALIA (suddenly, as Vera makes to go to 
the hall). Come here. 
(Vera obeys; Natalia kisses her on the brow.) 
What a child ! 

(Vera smiles awkwardly, kisses her hand, and 
starts to go.) 

RAKITIN (whispering to her). I've sent 
the glue. 

VERA. Thank you, Mihail Alexandro- 

vitch, so much- 

(She sees Natalia looking at her, and hurries 
into the hall. Rakitin goes to Natalia; she 
holds out her hand, which he takes.) 

RAKITIN. Natalia Petrovna, what is the 
matter with you ? 

NATALIA. The sort of thing than can 
happen to anybody, surely. Like clouds 
trailing over the sky . . . (After a pause) 
Why are you looking at me like that? 

RAKITIN (simply) . Because when I look 
at you like this, I feel happy. 

NATALIA (smiling). Ah . . . (After a 
pause) Open the study door, Michel, will 

you? It may make a breeze 

(Rakitin rises and opens the study door.) 
Welcome, O Zephyr-wind! The wild 
restless creature . . . (Looking round) Try 
and drive him out if you can ! 

RAKITIN. And now you've changed 
again. Soft and still, like a summer 
evening after a thunderstorm. 



NATALIA. Ah . . . Has there been a 
thunderstorm ? 

RAKITIN. Not quite, but it was 
gathering. 

NATALIA (after a pause) . Do you know^, 
Michel, you must be the kindest man in 
the world? 

RAKITIN. But how dull that sounds 

NATALIA. I mean it, you're tolerant, 
you're affectionate, and you never never 
change. I owe so much to you ; our feeling 
for each other is so sincere, so innocent . . . 
And yet . . . 

RAKITIN . And yet what ? 

NATALIA. There's something not quite 
— natural about it, do you know what I 
mean? Oh, I know we have the right to 
look not only my husband in the face, but 
the whole w^orld — and yet . . . (Thought- 
fully) I suppose that's why I have this 
horrid desire to vent my bad temper, like 
a child with its nurse 

RAKITIN. With me as the nurse? A 
flattering comparison indeed 

NATALIA. Sometimes one takes pleasure 
in tormenting a creature one loves. 

RAKITIN (breathlessly) . A creature — 
one loves ? 

NATALIA. Of course, why should I 
pretend? I love you. 

RAKITIN. Go on. 

NATALIA. It comes over me sometimes, 
like a wave; T love him', I think to 
myself; and it's a wonderful peaceful 
feeling, warming my heart through and 
through . . . And yet . . . 

RAKITIN. Another yet? 

NATALIA. Well, you've never made me 
cry, have you? And it seems to me that if 
it were love . . . 

RAKITIN. Natalia Petrovna, no more, 
do you mind? 

NATALIA. No more? 

RAKITIN. I'm afraid the happiness I 
possess may melt into thin air. 

NATALIA. Oh, it mustn't do that . . . 

RAKITIN. I'm in your power; you can 
twist me round your little finger. 
(They look at each other.) 

YSLAEv's VOICE (in the ballroom) . Is the 
new tutor back from the dam yet ? 

MATVEl's VOICE (in the ballroom). I 
haven't seen him come over, sir 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



127 



NATALIA (rising y quickly). Arkady's 
back — I don't want to see him 

RAKiTiN. But my dear — your hus- 
band 

NATALIA. I know he's my husband, but 

I just don't want to see him 

(She hurries into the study. Rakitin looks after 
her^ puzzled. A pause. Yslaev enters from the 
ballroom. He is a prosperous landowner, 
seven jears older than his wife; a kind pleasant 
man wrapped in his own affairs. He carries 
building plans.) 

YSLAEV. Ah, Michel — how are you 
today, my dear fellow^? 

RAKITIN. But we saw each other this 
morning ! 

YSLAEV. So we did, I beg your 
pardon . . . I've had a day, I can tell you, 

up to my neck (Crossing and sitting at 

the desky comparing his plan with others in the 
desk) D'you know, the oddest thing — the 
Russian peasant isn't at all a brainless 
fellow, shrewd as they make 'em — but 
you can tell him something in detail, 
explain it again, get it crystal clear . . . 
and you look at him and realize that not 
one word has sunk in, not one. The 
Russian 

RAKITIN . Still worrying about the dam ? 

YSLAEV. The Russian peasant is no fool, 
everybody knows that, but he hasn't got 
that — well, 'love of work', is the only 
way to put it — ah — (putting aside the 
water colors) — where 's my lady w^ife, bless 
her? 

RAKITIN. She was in here a minute 
ago 

YSLAEV. Is it anywhere near tea? I've 
lost all sense of time ; on my feet since 
dawn, it's appalling . . . (As Rakitin smiles) 
I amuse you, dear boy — but every man has 
his niche in life; and being a stolid sort 
of a fellow, I was bom to be a farmer, and 
nothing more. Beliaev hasn't asked for 
me, has he? 

RAKITIN. Beliaev? 

YSLAEV. The new tutor, haven't you 
seen him? He's no fool, just ran into him 
in the drive and asked him if he'd see how 
the workmen are getting on with the 

new building 

(Beliaev hurries in from the garden, from the 
right.) 



Well, my boy, how are they? Not doing 
a stroke, I bet? 

BELIAEV. Oh yes, sir, at it hammer and 
tongs 

YSLAEV. Are they? Have they put down 
the second framework? 

BELIAEV. They've started on the third. 
(He is more at ease now he is alone with his 
own sex) 

YSLAEV. That's something, anyway. 

Thank you, my boy, very much 

(Natalia returns from the study, with a large 

por folio of paintings.) 

Ah, Natalia . . . how are you, my dear? 

RAKITIN. But you're spending the 
whole day asking the same people about 
their health ! 

YSLAEV. I've told you, my dear fellow, 
it's overwork — snowed under! By the 
way, have I shown you my new winnowing 
machine ? 

NATALIA (listlessly turning over pages) . 
No . . . 

YSLAEV. But my dear, it's the most 
interesting thing you've ever seen ! One 
flick of the wrist, and the wind whizzes 
round — a devil of a gale ! (Rising) I tell 
you what — we'll just have time before 
tea — (to Rakitin) — care to see it? 

RAKITIN. If you like 

YSLAEV. Coming, Natalia? 

NATALIA. I don't understand the first 
thing about winnowing 

YSLAEV. Back in a trice 



(He and Rakitin go out into the garden, arm 
in arm, and disappear to the left. Beliaev 
hesitates and makes to follow them.) 

NATALIA. Are you going out again? 

BELIAEV (turning). Me? I was just . . . 
going for a walk 

NATALIA. Do you Want to? 

BELIAEV. No, not — ^not particularly, 
I've been walking all day. 

NATALIA. That's what I thought. So 
won't you sit down? (As he looks at her, 
overcome with shjness) As we haven't 
exchanged two w^ords up till now, w^e 
can't say we've even properly met, can 
we? Won't you sit down? 

BELIAEV (bowing awkwardly and sitting) . 
That — that's very kind of you, ma dame. 

NATALIA. You're afraid of me, aren't 
you? 



128 



IVAN TURGENEV 



BELIAEV 

madame — 



(overcome with shyness J . Oh, 



NATALIA. But when you get to know 
me, you won't be afraid of me any more. 
How old are you? 

BELIAEV. Twenty-one. 

NATALIA. Are your parents Hving? 

BELIAEV. My father is, madame, yes. 

NATALIA (turning over pages J . Does he 
live in Moscow? 

BELIAEV. No, madame, in the country. 

NATALIA. Have you any brothers and 
sisters? 

BELIAEV. One sister, younger than me. 

NATALIA. What's her name? 

BELIAEV. Natalia. 

NATALIA (looking up, eagerly). Natalia! 
How very odd — my name's Natalia. 

BELIAEV. Really, madame? (Awkwardly) 
How odd. 

(A pause. She rises and places the portfolio on 
the table.) 

NATALIA. And you're very fond of her? 

BELIAEV (rising, politely). Yes. 

NATALIA. Our Kolia's already very 
much attached to you. 

BELIAEV. I'm so glad. I am naturally 
anxious to give every satisfaction. 

NATALIA. Oh . . . You sec, Alexei 
Nikolaich, my idea is for him to grow up 
— free. (Sitting in the armchair) Shall I tell 
you why? 

BELIAEV. Madame? 

NATALIA. Because I was brought up in 
a very different atmosphere. (Motioning 
him to sit) My father was excessively 
stern ; the entire household was frightened 
of him. Even now^ I feel the influence of 
those years of constraint — I know that the 
first impression I give is often one of — 
coldness, perhaps . . . But I'm talking 

about myself were you kept under, 

as a child? 

BELIAEV. I don't really know. Nobody 
bothered about me, either way. 

NATALIA. But your father ? 

BELIAEV. Oh, he was always out. 

NATALIA. En voyage, you mean? 

BELIAEV. No, he — he had his visiting. 

NATALIA (puzzled). Paying calls? 

BELIAEV. In a way, yes; he — (blurting 
it out) — he went round doing odd jobs. 

NATALIA. Ah ... I beg your pardon . . . 
(Brushing the subject delicately aside) Alexei 



Nikolaich, was that you singing in the 
garden yesterday? 

BELIAEV. Oh . . . (Embarrassed) The 
lake is so far from the house, I didn't 
think 

NATALIA . There ' s no need to apologize , 
you have a very pleasant voice . . . 
(Suddenly rising) Do you know, Alexei 
Nikolaich, I feel at ease with you? My 
chattering away so disgracefully should 
prove that! We are going to be friends, 
are we not? 

(She holds out her hand. He takes it, 
hesitatingly, and after a moment of indecision, 
kisses it. She draws away her hand confused, 
as The Doctor enters Jrom the hall and sees 
them. Beliaev crosses with exercise books and 
collects others Jrom bookcase.) 
(Embarrassed) Ah, Doctor 

THE DOCTOR (overheartj) . Natalia 
Petrovna, I go into your kitchen for my 
patient, and there he sits the picture of 
health, wolfing pancakes and onions I 
How can a man pursue medicine and the 
innocent profits deriving therefrom, when 
that sort of cheating goes on ? 

NATALIA (crossing to the mirror over the 
desk) . Doctor, vous etes impayable . . . 
(To Beliaev, as he makes to go out) Oh, 
Alexei Nikolaich, I forgot to say 

vera's voice (in the hall). Alexei 
Nikolaich ! 
(Vera runs in from the hall.) 

VERA (calling) . Alexei — (seeing 

Natalia) — oh. 

NATALIA. Gracious, child, what a 
tomboy ! 

VERA. Kolia wants his new tutor — I 
mean Kolia asked me about the kite 

NATALIA. I see. Mais on n'entre pas 
comme cela dans une chambre . . . 
(She tidies her hair in the mirror.) 

VERA (to Beliaev) . She did it ! 

BELIAEV. She didn't! 
(They both burst out laughing. Natalia sees 
them in the mirror, while the Doctor watches 
all three.) 

BELIAEV (to Vera). You're not making 
it up? 

VERA. Cross my heart — she just fell 
straight off! 

NATALIA (into the mirror) . Who fell off? 

VERA (embarrassed) . Oh ... It was our 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



129 



swing — and Kolia's nurse took it into her 

head to 

(^She catches Beliaev^s eye and they both laugh 
again.) 

NATALIA (suddenly). Doctor! 

THE DOCTOR. Madame ! 

NATALIA. Could I have a word with 
you? 

THE DOCTOR (hurrying down). A votre 
service, madame. 

NATALIA (to Vera). She didn't hurt 
herself, I hope? 

VERA. Oh no — (to Beliaev) — but she 

looked so funny 

(Both laugh.) 

NATALIA (turning to them, severely). I 
don't think it was very wise, all the same. 
(Both stand, like scolded children. Matvei 
enters from the hall.) 

MATVEI (announcing) . Tea is served. 

NATALIA. And the others? 

MATVEI. All in the dining room. 
(He goes hack into the hall.) 

NATALIA (pointing to Beliaev) . Vera, 
allez en avant avec Monsieur. 
(Vera curtseys demurely to Beliaev, and they 
both follow Matvei.) 

THE DOCTOR (to Natalia) . You wanted 
to tell me something? 

NATALIA (wiping her fingers on a paint- 
rag). Did I? Oh yes . . . We haven't yet 
properly discussed your suggestion, have 
we? 

THE DOCTOR. My Suggestion? About 
Vera here and my friend ? 

NATALIA. About Vera, and your 
friend . . . Well, it was just to say that 
I'll think it over . . . Yes, I'll think it 
over. 

(She walks, catches his eye, then goes out 
into the hall. The Curtain falls quickly, 
rising immediately on 



SCENE TWO 

A corner of the garden; late afternoon of the 
next day. All we see is a fragment of lofty wall 
overgrown with creeper, with before it a 
garden seat facing the audience and a narrow 
path running from left to right, the whole set 
very near the audience. The scene is bathed in 
a soft glow which deepens as the evening 
advances. 



A pause. Matvei and Katia (a buxom, 

pretty servant-girl of twenty) stroll slowly 

from the left; she carries a basket, he a 

watering-can. He looks worried, she bored. 

They sit on the seat. A pause. 



MATVEI. Put me out o' me misery, 
there's a good girl. 

KATIA. Matvei Egorych, I don't know 
what to say — it is kind of you 

MATVEI. I'm older than you; it's no 
good me makin' out I'm not, because I 
am. But I'm in my prime, and if I may 
say so, a very good prime too. An' you 
know yourself what a respectable man I 
am, an' what more does a woman want 
than a respectable man? 

KATiVA. Nothing more at all. 

MATVEI. Well? 

KATIA. Matvei Egorych, it is kind of 
you . . . but don't you think we ought to 
wait 

MATVEI. But, Katerina Vassilevna, 
excuse me — ^why? If you're afeared you 
might not be treated with respect, I can 
vouch for that — you'll have respect from 
me, Katerina Vassilevna, the like o' w^hich 
no female ever yet got from a male, so 
'elp me God; I've never had anything but 
good marks from the master and mistress, 
never a drop passes my lips, an' I'm a 
respectable man, what more does a 
w^oman want? 

KATIA. Nothing more at all, it is kind 
of you 

MATVEI. I know it's kind of me, but 
what's the answer? 

KATIA. Oh dear . . . 
(Matvei rises, walks, then turns sharply on 
her.) 

MATVEI. It's my 'umble opinion, 
Katerina Vassilevna, that you didn't 
always 'um an' 'aw like this. 

KATIA (confused) . Not always ? How do 
you mean? 

MATVEI. It's only lately you've been 
at it. 

KATIA (blushing). I don't know what 
you're talking about — oh look, here 
comes that nasty German 

MATVEI. That bilious object, can't 
stomach 'im — we'll have to thrash it out 
later 



I30 



IVAN TURGENEV 



(He hurries off, to the right. Katia is about 
to run off to the left, when she runs into Shaaf, 
ajishing rod over one shoulder.) 

SHAAF. Vither, o vither, my fair 
Katerina, ja? 

KATIA. The housekeeper sent me to 
pick some red currants, in a great 
hurry 

SHAAF. Currant are gut fruit. You are 
currant fond, ja? 

KATIA, I quite Hke them, thank you 

SHAAF. Me currant also fond, he he he ! 
I am fond wid everyting dat you are fond 
wid. Currant phss? 

KATIA. Oh, I couldn't spare one — I'd 
catch it from the housekeeper 

SHAAF. I komme catch mit you. 
(Pointing to the fishing rod) What ist dies 
you call it? Fishing catch mit fishing- 
schtick? You underschtand fishing- 
schtick? You like fishes? 

KATIA. I quite like them, thank you 

SHAAF. Also fishes me like, he he he. 
Do you know what I schpeak mit you 
now? A leedle sonk, a leedle sonk fiir 
Katerina . . . (Singing, heavily) 'Katerin- 
chen, Katerinchen, wie lieb' ichdichso 
sehr', which means one ting, one leedle 
ting . . . lofF, loff, loff! 
(He tries to put his arm round her.) 

KATIA. Oh no, please — an old gentle- 
man like you, it doesn't look a bit nice — 

give over! — there's somebody coming 

(She darts off to the right.) 

SHAAF (muttering, sternly, his skittish 
manner gone) . Shaaf, das ist dumm . . . 
(Natalia enters fi-om the lejt, arm in arm with 
Rakitin; she carries a parasol, he a magazine. 
She is much more restless than before.) 

NATALIA. Ah, Adam Ivanych . . . 
where 's Kolia? 

SHAAF. Kolia ist in schkul-room mit 
Lizaveta Bogdanovna vitch titch him de 
bianoforte blay. 

NATALIA. Good . . . Have you seen the 
new tutor? 

SHAAF. No. He zay dat he choin me. 
(He bows and shambles off to the left.) 

NATALIA (after a pause, calling) . Adam 
Ivanych, we'll come and keep you 
company while you blay mit your fishing- 
schtick — what do you say to that? 

shaaf's voice. Boodiful lady, vot an 
honor, vot an honor 



RAKITIN (aside, to Natalia) . Now why 
on earth do you want to saddle us 

NATALIA. Come along, handsome 
stranger. Beau tenebreux . . . 
(They drift out of sight, to the left. Katia 
appears cautiously from the right.) 

KATIA. That horrible old German, 
what a blessing, gives me the creeps . . . 
(She sighs, dreamily, then sits on the seat, and 
hums snatches of a song.) 
(Singing) 

Must I love and have no lover 
While my heart it glows and bums 
Not with passion, but with Russian 
Melancholy sighs it yearns . . . 
Matvei Egorych was right, what he said, 
about humming and hawing ... oh 
dear . . . 
(Singing) 

Not with madness but with sadness 
My heart its cruel lesson learns 

Not with madness 

(Beliaev and Vera enter from the right. He 
carries a kite. Katia sees them and stops 
singing.) 

BELIAEV. Katia, why have you stopped? 
(Singing) 

Not with sadness but with madness 
My heart the art of kissing learns ! 

KATIA (blushing, and giggling) . Oh . . . 
we don't sing it with those words . . , 

BELIAEV. What are you picking — 
currants? I love currants. 

KATIA (handing him the basket) . Take 
them all. 

BELIAEV. All? I couldn't do that . . . 
Would you like some. Vera Alexandre vna ? 
(As he and Vera take a few) Shall we sit 
here? 

VERA. Shall we? 
(Katia wanders off to the right. They munch 
for a moment.) 

BELIAEV. Now — (showing the kite) — 
this fellow's tail's got to be tied on. Will 
you give me a hand? 

VERA. Delighted, sir 

BELIAEV (as he and Vera sit on the seat) . 
There . . . (Arranging the kite over her 
knee) Mind you hold it dead straight, or 
there'll be the devil to pay. 

VERA (laughing) . I'll be careful. (Ashe 
begins to tie on the tail) But if you sit like 
that how can I watch you ? 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



131 



BELIAEV (looking at her). Why do you 
want to watch me? 

VERA. To see just how you're tying 
it on. 

BELIAEV. oh . . . One minute . . . 
(Moving round so she can see^ and calling) 
Katia, where's that lusty treble? Pipe up ! 
(Katia is heard giggling, to the right.) 

VERA. Did you sometimes fly kites in 
Moscow? 

BELIAEV. Good lord no. I had no time 
for kites in Moscow ! Press w^ith your 
finger, will you? . . . No, butter-fingers, 
like this . . . Do you really think that all 
we have to do in the great city is to fly 
kites ? 

VERA. Well, how do you spend your 
time in the great city? 

BELIAEV. Oh . . . Studying. 

VERA. I suppose — (<^fi^^ ^ pause) — you 
have hundreds of friends in Moscow ? 

BELIAEV. Oh yes . . . D'you know, I 
don't think this string's going to be 
strong enough 

VERA (anxiously) . Are you very at- 
tached to them? 

BELIAEV. I should think I am ! (Intent 
on the kite) Aren't you fond of your friends ? 

VERA. I haven't any. 

BELIAEV. I mean girl friends. 

VERA. Oh. 

BELIAEV. Oh what? 
(Katia^s voice is heard, singing in snatches.) 

VERA. They don't seem to have been 
very much in my thoughts lately. 

BELIAEV. Anyway, how can you say you 
haven't any men friends ? What about me ? 

VERA (with a smile) . Oh, you're differ- 
ent . . . (After a pause) Alexei Nikolaich, 
do you write poetry? 

BELIAEV. No. 

VERA. Oh. (After a pause) At the 
boarding school I went to, there was one 
girl who did. 

BELIAEV. Wrote poetry? Good lord . . . 
(Using his teeth to tighten the knot in the 
string) Was it any good? 

VERA. I don't really know. She read it 
out to us, and we all cried. 

BELIAEV. Cried? Good lord, why? 

VERA. Because we felt sorry for her. 

BELIAEV. For writing such bad poetry? 

VERA. Oh no, because it was so sad. 

BELIAEV. Was your school in Moscow? 



VERA. Madame Bolusse's. Natalia 
Petrovna took me away last year. 

BELIAEV. Are you fond of Natalia 
Petrovna ? 

VERA. Oh, very. She's been so kind to 
me. 

BELIAEV. Are you afraid of her as well ? 
(She looks at him; he grins at her.) 

VERA (smiling) . A little bit, yes . . . 

BELIAEV (after a pause) . And who sent 
you to the school? 

VERA. Her mother, she brought me 
up. I'm an orphan. 

BELIAEV. An orphan? (Putting down the 
kite) Are you really? 

VERA. Yes. 
(Katia starts to sing again.) 

BELIAEV. My mother died too. So I'm 
a sort of orphan as well. 

VERA. Both orphans . . . 

BELIAEV. It's not our fault, so there's 
no point in getting depressed about it, is 
there ? 

VERA. They say orphans make friends 
sooner than anybody. 

BELIAEV. Do they? 
(He looks into her eyes. Katia stops singing. 
A pause. He goes hack to his work.) 
How long have I been here? Three, or 
four 

VERA. Twenty-eight days counting 
today. 

BELIAEV. What a memory! A whole 
month, in the country . . . There, 
finished! Look at that tail, there's a 

swisher for you 

(Katia returns from the right, goes up to him 

with her basket.) 

(Rising.) Now to get Kolia 

KATIA. Would you like some more 
currants, sir? 

BELIAEV. No thank you, Katia. 

KATIA (disappointed) . Oh . . . 
(She walks slowly back to the right.) 

BELIAEV. Where is Kolia, d'you know? 

VERA. Over in the schoolroom with 
Lizaveta Bogdanovna. 

BELIAEV. Keeping a child indoors in 
this weather 

VERA. Do you know she spoke very 
nicely about you yesterday? 

BELIAEV. Lizaveta Bogdanovna? Did 
she? 

VERA. Don't you like her? 



132 



IVAN TURGENEV 



BELIAEV. Never thought about it. 
(Finishing off the kite) She can take snuff 
till she's black in the face, I'm just not 
interested. 

(A pause. Vera sighs.) . 
Why are you sighing? 

VERA. I don't know. What a blue 
sky . . . 

BELIAEV. Is that why you're sighing? 
Perhaps you're bored? 

VERA. Bored? Oh no . . . 

BELIAEV. You're not sickening for 
something, are you? 

VERA. No, but . . . well. — Yesterday I 
was going up to fetch a book, and suddenly 
— imagine — I just sat on the stairs and 
burst into tears. 

BELIAEV. Good lord. 

VERA, what could it mean, do you 
think? Because I'm really quite happy. 

BELIAEV (turning to her) . Shall I tell you 
what it is? 

VERA. What? 

BELIAEV. Growing pains. 

VERA. Oh . . . 

BELIAEV (hack to the kite) . So that's why 
your eyes looked so swollen last night . . . 

VERA. You noticed? 

BELIAEV. Of course I noticed. 
(She looks at him, he is looking at the kite. A 
pause. Katia is heard singing, very faintly, 
some way off. Vera listens.) 

VERA (thoughtfully) . Alexei Nikolaich. 

BELIAEV. Hmm? 

VERA. Am I like her? 

BELIAEV. Not a bit. 

VERA (disappointed) . Oh. 

BELIAEV. For one thing, you're better- 
looking. 

VERA. Am I? 
(He looks at her; an embarrassed pause.) 

BELIAEV (breaking it). Well, Vera 
Alexandrpvna, what about young Kolia? 

VERA. Why don't you call me 
Verochka? 

BELIAEV. Shall I? And what about your 
calling me Alexei? 

VERA. Shall I? (Starting) Oh bother 

BELIAEV. What is it 

VERA (in a subdued voice) . Natalia 

Petrovna 

BELIAEV (catching her tone). Let's go in 
to Kolia, shall we? He's bound to have 
finished his doh-ray-me by now 



VERA. Oh, do you think we ought? 
(They both disappear to the right. Natalia 
and Rakitin re-enter from the left.) 

NATALIA. Surely that was Verochka 
scurrying along? 

RAKITIN. Was it? 

NATALIA. But they looked exactly as if 
they were running away from us ! 

RAKITIN. Perhaps they are. 

NATALIA. Seriously, I don't think it at 
all convenable for her to be wandering in 
the garden all by herself with a young 
man, really I don't. 

RAKITIN. I thought you said she was a 
child. 

NATALIA. What? Of course she's a 
child — but still, it's not quite proper. I 
shall have to be cross with her. 

RAKITIN. How old is she ? 

NATALIA. Seventeen . . . (Sitting) 
Where's the Doctor, he hasn't gone, 
has he? 

RAKITIN (sitting next to her). I rather 
think he has 

NATALIA. Oh, how provoking, why 
didn't you get him to stay? . . . Why a 
character like that should ever have 
disguised himself as a provincial apo- 
thecary, I can't imagine. He's so amusing. 

RAKITIN. I had an idea you weren't in 
a laughing mood today. 

NATALIA. Because I've taken against 
sentimentality? I have, I warn you — 
nothing, absolutely nothing, could touch 
me today, I've a heart of stone . . . But I 
wanted to see the Doctor, it is provoking 
of you 

RAKITIN. May I ask what about ? 

NATALIA. You may not, you already 
know every single thing I do, exactly why 
I do it — I have an uncontrollable desire to 
conceal something from you. 

RAKITIN. Since I watch you so closely, 
shall I tell you one thing I have observed? 
(A pause. She looks at him, then away.) 

NATALIA. I am all ears. 

RAKITIN. You won't be annoyed with 
me? 

NATALIA. I should like to be, but I 
shan't succeed. Go on. 

RAKITIN. For some time, Natalia 
Petrovna, you've been in a state of 
constant fretfulness. 

NATALIA. Go on. 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



133 



RAKITIN. Not ordinary short temper — 
but a fretting from within. You appear to 
be . . . in conflict with your own self. 
fAs Natalia traces a pattern in the dust with 
her parasol) I've heard you sigh. Deep long 
breaths : the sighs of a creature immensely 
tired, who can never, never come to rest. 
(A pause. Katia^s voice, singing. J 

NATALIA. And what do you conclude 
from all that. Monsieur le Microscope? 

RAKITIN. I conclude nothing. But it 
causes me concern 

NATALIA (suddenly impatient) . Oh, for 
Heaven's sake let's change the subject. 
(A pause. Katia's voice dies away.) 

RAKITIN. You don't intend going for a 
drive today 

NATALIA (suddenly). Tell me, what do 
you think of Bolshintsov? 

RAKITIN. Our neighbor, you mean, 
Afanasy Ivanych? 

NATALIA. Yes. 

RAKITIN. Well, 1 never thought to hear 
you ask tenderly after a beef-witted old 
Jumbo like Bolshintsov. Though I must 
concede 1 can't think of anything worse 
against him. 

NATALIA, oh, he just came into my 
head. 
(A pause.) 

RAKITIN. Look at the dark green of 
that oak, against the velvet blue of the 
sky . . . the deep glow of those colors . . . 
isn't it perfect? What a wealth of life and 
strength stand embodied in that tree ! And 
then look at this slim young birch; her 
tiny leaves shimmer with a sort of liquid 
radiance, as if they were melting before 
our eyes . . . And yet, in her way, the 
birch is as lovely as the oak. 
(A pause.) 

NATALIA. Rakitin, shall I tell you 
something? 

RAKITIN. Do 

NATALIA. Something about you which 
I noticed ages ago — (looking at him) — I 
might even say 'observed' . . . You feel 
the beauties of Nature in a very rarefied 
way, and expatiate upon them most 
elegantly; so elegantly, indeed, that in 
return for the meticulous metaphors you 
shower upon her, I can imagine Nature 
saying, 'Really, it is good of that tall 
gentleman to say those kind things about 



me. ' You court her as a scented marquis in 
red heels might court a rosy peasant girl. 
The only fly in the ointment, my dear, is 
that just as the girl would find every 
single compliment miles above her head, 
so Nature doesn't understand a word you 
say. And shall I tell you why? Because, 
thank Heaven, she is much coarser than 
you have any knowledge of; and she's 
coarse because she's healthy. Birch- trees 
don't melt or fade away, for the simple 
reason they're not highly-strung young 
ladies, they're birch-trees. 

RAKITIN. What an onslaught! . . . I'm 
a morbid creature: I see. 

NATALIA. Oh, you're not the only one. 
I don't think either of us is spiritually 
bursting with health. 

RAKITIN. That's another thing I've 
observed. 

NATALIA. What? 

RAKITIN. Your trick of putting the 
nastiest things in the most innocent way. 
Instead of calling somebody an idiot, you 
turn to him with a smile and say 'Mon 
cher ami, you and I are fools.' 

NATALIA. Well, if the word 'morbid' 
doesn't appeal to you, then I'll just say 
we're both old. As old as the hills. 

RAKITIN. I don't feel particularly 
ancient. 

NATALIA. Do you realize that not ten 
minutes ago, sharing the same garden 
seat, two creatures sat together who can 
truly claim to be young? 
(A pause.) 

RAKITIN. You envy them their artless 
candor, their innocence — in short, their 
stupidity? 

NATALIA. Do you think they're stupid? 
Oh, Rakitin, that's so like you! Anyway, 
what's the point of cleverness if it doesn't 
amuse ? 

(Katia enters from the right, carrying her 
basket.) 

Ah, Katia ! Have you been picking fruit, 
my dear? 

KATIA. Yes, madame 

NATALIA. Let me look. (Peering into 
the basket) What gorgeous currants, how 
red they are 

KATIA. Aren't they, madame- 



NATALIA. Not as red as your cheeks, 
though, Katia 



134 



IVAN TURGENEV 



KATIA (smiling and blushing J. Oh, 
madame, do you think so 

NATALIA. I do indeed — f suddenly weary) 
— you may go, my dear . . . 
(Katia curtseys and hurries off to the left.) 

RAKiTiN. Another callow creature who 
appeals to you. 

NATALIA. Yes, she's young too. (Rising, 
suddenly) It's time Verochka was in. Au 
revoir, mon ami. 

(She opens her parasol and walks slowly away 
to the right. A pause.) 

RAKITIN. She was right, Mihail 
Alexandrovich Rakitin — every minute of 
every day, you spend on the lookout for 
trivialities, and in the end you've turned 
into a triviality yourself. (After a pause) 
And yet ... I cannot live without her; 
to part from Natalia Petrovna would be 
to leave life itself . . . What is this unrest 
of hers ? Is she tired of me ? I know too 
w^ell the kind of love she bears me — but I 
had hopes that in time . . . What am I 
saying — she's a virtuous woman, and I 
am not a philanderer . . . (smiling, wryly) 
. . . worse luck . . . (Walking up and 
down) What a beautiful day! (After a 
pause) Meticulous metaphors, indeed . . . 
And vv^hy this sudden passion for sim- 
plicity? It all seems to go with that new 
tutor. She couldn't be . . .no, that's out 
of the question, she's just in a bad mood ; 
Heaven knows, time will show. (Sitting 
again) . . . And it's not the first occasion 
in your life, my boy, that after a confer- 
ence with yourself, you've had to throw 
all your theories overboard, fold your 
arms meekly and wait for events. 
(He opens his magazine. Beliaev comes 
strolling backjrom the right.) 
Ah, Alexei Nikolaich ! Are you after a 
breath of fresh air too ? 

BELIAEV. Indeed I am, sir! What a 
lovely day! 

RAKITIN. Won't you sit down? 

BELIAEV. Thank you. (He sits) 

RAKITIN (after a pause). Did you see 
Natalia Petrovna? 

BELIAEV. Yes, walking over to the 
schoolroom, with Vera. 

RAKITIN. And how do you take to the 
rustic life? 

BELIAEV. Oh, capitally, except for the 
shooting. That's pretty poor. 



RAKITIN. Oh. Are you partial to 
shooting? 

BELIAEV. Very. Are you, sir? 

RAKITIN. I'm afraid not. I'm a deplora- 
ble shot; much too lazy. 

BELIAEV. I'm lazy too, I'm afraid, but 
not where sport's concerned. 

RAKITIN. And entertaining the ladies 
— are you lazy where that's concerned? 

BELIAEV. You're laughing at me, sir . . . 
To tell you the honest truth, I'm rather 
afraid of them. 

RAKITIN. The ladies? . . . Are you? 
But why should you think I was laughing 
at you? 

BELIAEV. I don't know, I just did. It 
doesn't matter, sir, really . . . (After a 
pause) Could you tell me where I can get 
some gunpowder? 

RAKITIN. Gunpowder? In the town, I 
should think, but very poor quality 

BELIAEV. That would do — it's not for 
shooting, it's for fireworks. 

RAKITIN. Fireworks? You mean you 
can make them ? 

BELIAEV. Oh yes. I've already picked 
a spot, on the other side of the lake. As 
it's little Kolia's birthday tomorrow, I 
thought it would be just the thing. 

RAKITIN. I'm sure Natalia Petrovna 
will be very touched by your kind thought. 
(He has lingered a little over her name) 

BELIAEV. Oh, do you think so? 

RAKITIN. She's taken a liking to you. 
Did you know? 

BELIAEV. Has she really, sir? I'm so 
glad . . . Excuse me, sir, isn't that a 
Moscow magazine ? 

RAKITIN (giving it to him). Do have it, 
I've finished 

BELIAEV. Oh, thank you, sir- 



RAKiTiN. It's a poetry review, I take it 
because they sometimes publish tolerably 
good verse. 

BELIAEV. Oh. (Tutting down the maga- 
zine, disappointed) Too bad. 

RAKITIN, Why? 

BELIAEV. I'm not very struck on 
poetry. 

RAKITIN. Oh. What have you against 
it? 

BELIAEV. I think it's rather affected. I 
like funny rhymes, of course, but that's 
different. 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



13^ 



RAKiTiN. It is, rather . . . You prefer 
novels ? 

BELIAEV. Oh yes, I Hke something that 
tells a story . . . 

RAKITIN. Do you dabble in writing 
yourself? 

BELIAEV : Lord no, I haven't any gifts 
for it and I know better than to try. I've 
got my work cut out trying to fathom 
what others get onto paper. 

RAKITIN. Do you realize, Alexei 
Nikolaich, that very few young men have 
your common sense ? 

BELIAEV. Thank you, sir . . . (After a 
pause) I chose the lake because I know 
how to make Roman candles that'll burn 
on the water. 

RAKITIN. Do you really? That must be 
a lovely sight . . . Alexei Nikolaich, do 
you speak French? 

BELIAEV. I'm afraid I don't — my 
laziness again. I'd give a lot to master 
Georges Sand in the original — she's a 
woman of course, but damnably good 
reading. Thank the Lord other people 
aren't quite such loafers as I am. 

RAKITIN. Now you're exaggerating 

BELIAEV. No, I'm not ; you see, I know 
myself. 

RAKITIN. I know something about you 
that you're not aware of. 

BELIAEV. Oh? What is it? 

RAKITIN. I know that what you look on 
as a fault in yourself — your naturalness — 
is the very thing which attracts people to 
you. 

BELIAEV. Attracts people? Who, for 
example ? 

RAKITIN. Natalia Petrovna? 

BELIAEV. Natalia Petrovna? Oddly 
enough, she's the one person with whom 
I don't feel in the least . . . natural, as you 
put it. 

RAKITIN. Ah . . . indeed? 

BELIAEV. And when all's said and done, 
surely the most important asset in a man 
isn't naturalness, but breeding? It's all 
very well for you, you've got breeding. . . 
Excuse me, sir — you're rather an odd 
character, aren't you? 

RAKITIN. Am I? 
(A pause. J 

BELIAEV. Did you hear that? Sounded 
like a com crake 



RAKITIN. Perhaps it was . . . (As 
Beliaev rises quickly J What is it? 

BELIAEV. I'm going to the greenhouse 

for my shotgun 

(He makes to go off to the right, and meets 
Natalia.) 

NATALIA. Alexei Nikolaich, where are 
you tearing off to ? 

BELIAEV. Oh ... I was just . . . 

RAKITIN. He heard a com crake, and 
was fetching his gun. 

NATALIA (to Beliaev) . Oh, don't do any 
shooting in the garden, do you mind? Let 
the poor bird live — besides, it would 
scare Kolia's Granny out of her skin! 

BELIAEV (confused). I beg pardon, 
madame, I'm sure . . . 

NATALIA (laughing) . Alexei Nikolaich, 
what a thing to say! 'I beg pardon, 
madame, I'm sure', talking like a servant ! 
Mihail Alexandrovich here and I will take 
you under our wing — c'est entendu — 
c'est entendu 

BELIAEV. It's very good of you 

NATALIA. First lesson — ^no diffidence. 
That's very important; it doesn't suit you 
at all . . . Oh yes, we'll take you in hand ! 
You're a young man, while he and I — 
(pointing her parasol at Rakitin) — are old 
people. You get busy on my little Kolia, 
and we'll get busy on you ! 

BELIAEV. It's wonderfully kind of 
you 

NATALIA. C'est 9a .. . What have you 
done with your kite? 

BELIAEV. I left it in the schoolroom. I 
thought you didn't like it. 

NATALIA (embarrassed) . Whatever made 
you think that ? Because 1 told Verochka — 
because I sent her in? (With animation) 
Do you know what we'll do? Kolia must 
have finished strumming by now, we'll go 
over and fetch him, and Verochka, and 
the kite, and all go into a field and fly it ! 
What do you say? 

BELIAEV. It would be wonderful, 
Natalia Petrovna 

NATALIA. Splendid. Take my hand! 
(As he hesitates, holding out frst one hand, 
then the other) Oh, how awkward you are 
— maladroit — come along — ofF we go ! 
(She and Beliaev hurrj off, hand in hand, to 
the right. Rakitin looks after them.) 

RAKITIN. I've never seen that ex- 



136 



IVAN TURGENEV 



pression on her face before. That smile, 
soft and yet crystal-clear, a look of — yes 
— a look of welcome . . . (In a sudden 
outburst) O God, spare me the pangs of 
jealousy! . . . Especially when it's as 
futile as this . . . 

(The Doctor strolls on from the left, followed 
by Bolshintsov, who lives up to the Doctor^ s 
description of him: near fifty, fat, good- 
natured, slow-witted, and extremely timid.) 
(Jauntily.) Well well, it's an ill wind 

THE DOCTOR. The lodge-keeper told 
us the whole family was in the garden — so 
here we are ! 

RAKiTiN. But why didn't you come 
straight up the drive? 

THE DOCTOR. As a matter of fact, 
Afanasy Ivanych here wanted to call in at 
the kitchen garden to have a look at the 
mushrooms. 

BOLSHINTSOV (puzzled) . But I 

THE DOCTOR (to him). Now we all 
know your passion for mushrooms . . . 

RAKITIN. If you'd rather stay out of 
doors, I'll go and tell Natalia Petrovna 
where you are — I have to go over, 
anyway 

THE DOCTOR. Ah wcll, in that case we 
won't detain you. Please don't stand on 
ceremony 

RAKITIN. Thank you. Au revoir, 
gentlemen. 
(He bows and hurries off to the right.) 

THE DOCTOR. Au rcvoir. (To Bolshint- 
sov) Now, Afanasy Ivanych, everything 
depends on 

BOLSHINTSOV (agitated) . Ignaty Illyich, 
you could have knocked me down with a 
feather . . . Mushrooms ! 

THE DOCTOR. Did you expect me to 
tell him that you were so goggle-eyed 
with nerves you begged to go miles out of 
our way, just to gain time? 

BOLSHINTSOV. But I don't think I've 
ever seen a mushroom. ... It may be very 
slow of me, but I 

THE DOCTOR. It is Very slow of you, 
my old dear, and you're leaving the whole 
thing to me, because I'm that much 
quicker . . . When I think you forced me 
here at the point of a blunderbuss 

BOLSHINTSOV. I know, my friend, but 
on my own property I feel ready for 
anything. But now I am here, I feel quite 



giddy . . . Ignaty Illyich, you interviewed 
the older person — what was her exact 
answer, yes or no? 

THE DOCTOR. Afanasy Ivanych, what is 
the span from your village to this august 
domain ? 

BOLSHINTSOV. Er — fifteen miles 

THE DOCTOR. During those fifteen 
miles, Afanasy Ivanych, you have asked me 
that identical question as regular as 
clockwork, three times to the mile. I 
have vouchsafed forty-five answers; and 
now prick up your ears, my old rabbit, 
for here comes the forty-sixth, and the 
last. (Placing him on the seat and sitting 
beside him) This is, word for word, what 
Natalia Petrovna said to me 

BOLSHINTSOV (eagerly). Yes? 

THE DOCTOR (quoting, slowly) . 'Doctor, 
on the ' 

BOLSHINTSOV (avidly). Yes, I see- 



THE DOCTOR (irritated). What d'you 
mean, you see, I haven't told you anything 
yet! She said, 'Doctor, on the one hand 



BOLSHINTSOV (holding out his hand). 
'On the one hand — yes ' 

THE DOCTOR. 'On the one hand, I know 
very little about Monsieur Bolshintsov — ' 

BOLSHINTSOV. Monsieur? But I'm not 
a Frenchman 

THE DOCTOR. I know you're not, and 
so does she, but as I've told you forty-five 
times, she fancies you better in French. 
We'll have another shot . . . 'Doctor, I 
know very little about Monsieur 
Bolshintsov, but he looks kind. ' 

BOLSHINTSOV. 'Kind.' That's nice . . . 

THE DOCTOR. 'On the other hand,' she 
went on 

BOLSHINTSOV (holding out the other hand, 
thoughtfully) . The other hand, yes 

THE DOCTOR. 'On the other hand, I 
will not bring pressure to bear on 
Verochka, but again on the other hand — 
(as Bolshintsov holds out thefrst hand again) 
. . . if he comes to win her respect, I shall 
place no obstacles.' In a word, Afanasy 
Ivanych, it's up to you to convince the 
young lady that marrying you would 
make her happy. 

BOLSHINTSOV (after thought) . It's a tall 
order. 

THE DOCTOR. Of coursc it's a tall 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



137 



order — but cut a dash, my old friend, cut 
a dash ! 

BOLSHiNTSov. Cut a dash, yes, that's 
it . . . But there is one thing, Ignaty 
lUyich; you may not beHeve me, but I 
have, from my tender est years, made 
little contact with the fair sex. 

THE DOCTOR. You Stagger me. 

BOLSHINTSOV. Well, they say it's the 
first step that counts, don't they — I 
wondered if you could think of a witty 
word or two to start the ball rolling? And 
as for paying you back 

THE DOCTOR. Paying me? (Rising, and 
drawing himself up) You do not labor, I 
trust, under the impression that I am 
bargaining with you? 

BOLSHINTSOV (rising). No no, but just 
to say that if you pull this off you can 
count on more than I said. 

THE DOCTOR. Tch, tch, I have no wish 
to — (sitting, and pulling Bolshintsov down 
with him) — how d'you mean, more than 
you said? 

BOLSHINTSOV. You know when your 
nag broke her leg and you said it was a 
disgrace for a doctor to be seen trudging 
about like a peasant? 

THE DOCTOR. And I meant it, my 
friend — a doctor has as much right to do 
his rounds on horseback as any lord of the 
manor 

BOLSHINTSOV. Well, I'll not only 
replace your beast, I'll give you the team. 

THE DOCTOR. The team? You mean — 

BOLSHINTSOV. The three horses, and 
the wagonette with 'em. 

THE DOCTOR (his eyes shining). 
Wagonette . . . Now where was I . . . 
You have under you — three hundred 
serfs, is it? 

BOLSHINTSOV. Three hundred and 
twenty. 

THE DOCTOR. The most eligible 
bachelor in all the Russias . . . Always 
remembering, of course, that young 
female persons are partial to a good 
figure. Now yours, while eminently 
respectable in every way, is a drawback. 

BOLSHINTSOV (depressed) . A drawback. 

THE DOCTOR. But you have another 
source to draw from — the gushing spring, 
my dear Afanasy Illyich, of your virtues ; 
and, of course, of your three hundred and 



twenty serfs ... To cut a long story, I 
should simply say to the young person 

BOLSHINTSOV. YeS ? 

THE DOCTOR. ' Vera Alexandrovna ! ' 

BOLSHINTSOV (muttering, his eyes closed) . 
'Vera Alexandrovna . . .' 

THE DOCTOR (as Bolshintsov repeats after 
him, to himself). T am a simple, mild 
man, and not poor; I should be obliged if 
you w^ould take a little more notice of me 
than heretofore, and having made 
inquiries, give me your answ^er.' 

BOLSHINTSOV (lost in admiration) . That 
was a first-rate speech, Ignaty Illyich. 

THE DOCTOR. Not bad, was it? 

BOLSHINTSOV. Just onc thing, my dear 
friend . . . You mentioned the word 
'mild' — you called me 'a mild man'. 

THE DOCTOR. Well, aren't you mild? 

BOLSHINTSOV. Yes yes, of course . . . 
but still 

THE DOCTOR (sternly). But still what? 

BOLSHINTSOV (after a pause). No, just 
tell her I'm a mild man. 

THE DOCTOR. One more thing — you 
won't take offense? 

BOLSHINTSOV. No no, my dear friend 
— out with it 

THE DOCTOR. You have a regrettable 
habit, Afanasy Illyich, of mispronouncing 
French vv^ords, and I think it would be 
safest not to use them. 

BOLSHINTSOV. Oh dear, 

THE DOCTOR. For instance, once when 
you meant to imply that a certain person 
was distinguished — 'distinguee' — I heard 
you exclaim 'The lady looks distinky'. 
One knows what you mean, but one is not 
impressed. (Looking) And here they all 

are (As Bolshintsov makes to go) Now 

now^, where are you off to? Mushrooms 
again ? 

BOLSHINTSOV (smiling and blushing). 

Oh dear 

(Natalia returns from the right, followed by 
Vera, Beliaev, Kolia (carrying the kite), 
Rakitin, and Lizaveta Bogdanovna. Natalia 
is in high spirits.) 

NATALIA (to Bolshintsov and the Doctor) . 
Ah, gentlemen ! How are you. Doctor, an 
unexpected treat! Oh by the way, you 
won't forget our picnic tomorrow for 
Kolia's birthday, will you? And are you 
well, Afanasy Illyich? 



138 



IVAN TURGENEV 



BOLSHINTSOV f raising his hat, perspiring 
and muttering, acutely embarrassed) . Thank 
you, lady — thank you 

NATALIA. And to what do we owe this 
pleasure, Doctor? 

THE DOCTOR. My friend here insisted 
on bringing me with him. 

NATALIA. Oh ho! So you have to be 



dragged here, do 



you 



Dragged? Good 



iggea nere, 

THE DOCTOR. 

heavens 

NATALIA. Now I've got you into a 
muddle — hurrah ! 

THE DOCTOR ( as the others laugh) . It's 
extremely kind of you to take it like that, 
Natalia Petrovna. And if I may pass such 
a remark, it is very pleasant to find you in 
such a gay mood. 

NATALIA. You find it necessary to 
comment on it ? Is it then so very rare ? 

THE DOCTOR. Good heavens no — good 
heavens 

NATALIA. Monsieur le Diplomate is 
getting into more and more of a tangle 

KOLIA (eagerly). Maman, when do we 
fly the kite ? 

NATALIA. Any time you like, my pet. 
(ToBeliaev) Come along, Alexei Nikolaich 
— (as Vera runs impulsively forward) — and 
you. Vera darling — we'll go into the 
field. (To the others) I don't think any of 
you would find it much fun, so I'll leave 
them in your charge, Lizaveta Bogdanovna. 

RAKITIN (as she starts to go) . But Natalia 
Petrovna, why do you think we wouldn't 
be amused? 

NATALIA. Because you're so clever . . , 
(To Beliaev and Vera) Ready, children? 
(She hurries off to the left, taking Kolia by the 
hand, followed by Beliaev. Vera makes to 
follow; Bolshintsov tries to intercept her, but 
cannot get a word out. She stijies a giggle and 
follows the others. Rakitin looks after them, 
puzzled and unhappy; the Doctor takes his 
arm, slyly.) 

THE DOCTOR. Just look at the four of 
them, tearing up to the field ! Let's go and 
see how they get on, shall we? Even 
though we are so clever! . . . (Turning 
and seeing Bolshintsov standing alone, the 
picture oj disconsolation, then calling) 
Lizaveta Bogdanovna ! 

LIZAVETA (eagerly) . Doctor . . . 

THE DOCTOR (to Bolshintsov ) . Our 



good Afanasy Ivanych, would you offer 
your arm to this good lady? 

BOLSHINTSOV. Only too pleased . . . 

LIZAVETA. Mutual, I'msure, mutual . . . 

THE DOCTOR. Afanasy Ivanych, you 
two in front, what d'you think? 
(Bolshintsov gives Lizaveta his arm, cere- 
moniously; they walk; the others watch them.) 

BOLSHINTSOV (stiffly). The weather is 
very pleasant today, is it not, in a manner 
of speaking? 

LIZAVETA. Isn't it just . . . 
(They disappear to the left.) 

THE DOCTOR (to Rakitin). Mihail 
Alexandrovich . . . (As Rakitin laughs) 
What are you laughing at? 

RAKITIN. I suppose I'm tickled at our 
bringing up the rear like this. 

THE DOCTOR (as they cross, arm in arm) . 
Ah, but don't forget, my dear friend, that 
the rear guard can only too easily become 
the advance guard. Shall I tell you how? 

RAKITIN. How? 

THE DOCTOR. By everybody turning 
round and going the other way. Ha ha . , . 
(They follow the others. The Curtain falls 
quickly, rising immediately on 

SCENE THREE 

The drawing-room, the next morning. 
Early sunlight. A coffee tray on the footstool 
before the sofa. Rakitin and the Doctor come 
in from the hall, arm in arm. 



THE DOCTOR (speaking as he enters). 
. . . And to cut a long story short, Mihail 
Alexandrovich — will you give an old 
friend a helping hand? 

RAKITIN. But my dear Ignaty Illyich, 
I don't quite 

THE DOCTOR. Now See here, my dear 
old fellow, just for a moment, put 
yourself in my place. Mind you, I'm 
really a looker-on, as I'm only dabbling 
in this to please a bosom friend . . . 
(Sitting on the sofa) Oh dear, my soft old 
heart will be the ruin of me ! 

RAKITIN (smiling). I wouldn't say you 
were anywhere near ruin at the moment — 

THE DOCTOR (laughing) . Ahha ! Joking 
apart, old dear, Natalia Petrovna gave me 
permission to tell the old boy her answer. 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



139 



And now that I have, she's gone into her 
sulks as if I'd done the wrong thing 
entirely ; and he hangs round my coattails 
like a dear old sheep-dog. 

RAKITIN (sitting next to him^ and pouring 
out cojfeej . Doesn't it seem a pity, Ignaty 
Illyich, that you stuck your finger in this 
pie at all? Old Bolshintsov's a fool, now, 
isn't he? 

THE DOCTOR. Of course he's a fool, 
but if we only allowed the clever ones to 
get married the race would die out ! , . . 
Stuck my finger in the pie, indeed — a 
bosom friend begged me to put a word in 
— ^my finger was stuck in for me, voila ! 
Could I refuse, with my soft heart? 

RAKITIN. But nobody's blaming you — 
though we're all entitled to wonder why 
you're taking so much trouble. 

THE DOCTOR. But because the old 
boy's a very old friend of mine ! 

RAKITIN. Is he really? 
(They catch each other^s eje, and both laugh. J 

THE DOCTOR. There's no pulling wool 
over your eyes. The fact is, dear fellow, 
one of my horses has broken his leg. 

RAKITIN. And your old friend is 
mending it for you? 

THE DOCTOR. No. 

RAKITIN. He's promised you a new 
horse ? 

THE DOCTOR. A team of three, and a 
wagonette. 

RAKITIN. Ah . . . Now I see daylight! 

THE DOCTOR. But I wouldn't like you 
to think I'd be a go-between if he wasn't 
of the highest character. 

RAKITIN. No no 

THE DOCTOR. The whole thing, quite 
frankly, goes very much against the grain 
with me — snuff? 

RAKITIN. No thank you 

THE DOCTOR (sniffng) . If only I could 
squeeze a definite 'yes' or 'no' out of 
her . . . You see, the old boy's as innocent 
as a babe unborn; and besides, his 
intentions being of the highest order 

RAKITIN. And his horses . . . 

THE DOCTOR. And his horses 

RAKITIN. But where do I come in? 

THE DOCTOR. Do wc not all know^ the 
esteem in which you are held by the lady 
in question — be an angel from heaven. 



my dear old Mihail Alexandrovich, put in 
a word for me 

RAKITIN. Is it your honest opinion that 
he's a good match for this girl? 

THE DOCTOR. If he isn't, then strike 
me dead where I stand. The first thing in a 
marriage is a stable character, and the old 
boy's more than stable, he — he's im- 
movable. I think I hear Natalia Petrovna 
now — my dear old friend, my benefactor, 
remember — two chestnuts and a dream 
of a brown mare — will you do it for me ? 

RAKITIN (smiling). All right, I'll do 
my best 

THE DOCTOR. The Lord will bless you. 
Two chestnuts, and a brown ! 
(He hurries into the ballroom as Natalia 
enters from the study. She sees Rakitin and 
stops.) 

NATALIA (hesitating) . Oh ... I thought 
you were in the garden. 

RAKITIN. You look overjoyed to see 
me 

NATALIA. Oh, don't . . . Who was 
that? 

RAKITIN. The Doctor. 

NATALIA. That provincial Machiavelli . . 
He's still hovering, is he? 

RAKITIN. He's staying on for the 
picnic to which you invited him. The 
provincial Machiavelli is out of favor 
today. 

NATALIA. He's good value from time 
to time, but he's inclined to meddle, 
which I detest. (Walking about) Besides, 
with all his fawning, he's very imperti- 
nent, and a cynic . . . (Sharply) What was 
he trying on with you? 

RAKITIN. He was telling me about your 
neighbor. 

NATALIA (sitting next to him) . Oh, that 
silly old thing. 

RAKITIN. You've changed about him, 
too. 

NATALIA. Today is not yesterday. 

RAKITIN. It is, as far as I'm concerned, 
though, isn't it? 

NATALIA. How do you mean? 

RAKITIN (handing her coffee) . You were 
unkind to me yesterday, and the same 
holds good today. 

NATALIA. I know, my dear, I'm 
sorry . . . (Suddenly gentle) Whatever 
foolish thoughts may come into my head, 



140 



IVAN TURGENEV 



there is nobody on whom I rely, as I rely 
on my Michel. (Quietly) There is nobody 
in the world whom I love, as I love you, 
(After a pause) You believe me, don't you? 
(Vera begins to play on the pianoforte in the 
ballroom; Chopin.) 

RAKITIN. I believe you. 
NATALIA. But I've come to think, my 
dear . . . that one can never — never really 
be responsible for one's actions; one can 
swear to nothing. We often fail to 
understand the past, how can w^e make 
pledges for what is to come? You can't 
put the future into chains. 

RAKITIN. That's true enough. 
NATALIA (after a pause). Michel, I'm 
going to tell you something. 
RAKITIN. Yes? 

NATALIA. It will hurt you, but I know 
it would hurt you still more if I kept it 
from you . . . This young man . . . 
RAKITIN. Yes? 

NATALIA. I find he is constantly in my 
thoughts. 

(A pause. The music trails away.) 
RAKITIN (quietly) . I know. 
NATALIA. You know? Michel, since 
when? 

RAKITIN. Yesterday. In that field . . . 
If you could have seen yourself! 
NATALIA. Did I look SO strange? 
RAKITIN. I should never have known it 
was you : your cheeks were flushed, your 
eyes shone like diamonds. And you looked 
at him with an attention so trusting, so 
brimful of happiness, and then the happi- 
ness broke into a smile . . . Even now, at 
the mere evocation your face is lighting 
up . . . 

NATALIA (as he averts his eyes). I don't 
mind anything you say, Michel, so long as 
you don't turn away from me . . . 
please . . . You're exaggerating now, you 
know; he was so wildly young, in that 
field — I caught it from him — it went to 
my head, and it'll pass off just like wine, 
in fact, it's not worth talking about. (As 
he does not move) I need your help, Michel 
. . . don't turn aw^ay from me — please . . . 
(A pause.) 

RAKITIN. I don't think you know 
yourself quite what is happening to you. 
NATALIA. Don't I? 
RAKITIN. One minute you say it's 



hardly w^orth discussing, the next you're 
asking for help. People don't ask for help 
unless they're desperate. You need mine? 

NATALIA. Yes, I do. 

(He looks at her, realizing at last that his 
fears were well founded. A pause.) 

RAKITIN (bitterly). I see. I'm willing 
to live up to your expectations, Natalia 
Petrovna, but I must first recover my 
breath. 

NATALIA. Recover . . . ? But — you 
don't think I might so far forget myself as 

to . . . You're not imagining 

RAKITIN. I imagine nothing. Shall we 
talk of something else? . . . (After a 
pause) About Verochka?. . . The Doctor's 
still waiting for your answer. 

NATALIA. You're angry with me. 

RAKITIN. I'm sorry for you. 

NATALIA. Sorry? (Rising, and crossing, 

angrily) Oh, Michel, this is too bad . . . 

(As he does not answer, biting her lip) The 

Doctor's waiting for my answer, did you 

say? But who asked him to meddle 

RAKITIN. He swore to me that you 

yourself had hinted 

NATALIA. Perhaps I did, I can't 
remember — what does it matter? The 
Doctor has so many irons in the fire, it 
can't be such a calamity if one of them 
falls out and singes his whiskers. 

RAKITIN. He merely wants to know 

NATALIA. Michel, I can't bear this cold 
polite stare . . . please ! 
(A pause. Vera begins to play again, in the 
ballroom.) 

I see, I made a mistake in being honest 
with you. You never suspected a thing, 
and now you're imagining Heaven knows 
what . . . (After a pause, as he does not 
move, in a hard voice) I shan't forget . . . 
(Ingenuously) Are you jealous? 

RAKITIN. I have no right to be jealous, 
Natalia Petrovna, you know that ... As 
for the other matter, Vera's in the ball- 
room now — shall I tell her you wish to 
see her? 

NATALIA. This minute? Just as you 
like . . . (As he rises to go) Michel, for the 
last time . . . you said just now you're 
sorry for me ... is this the way to show 
it? 

RAKITIN (coldly). Shall I tell her? 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



141 



NATALIA (angrily). Yes, tell her, tell 
her . . . 

(Rakitin goes into the ballroom. Natalia 
stands a moment without moving. J 
Even he doesn't understand . . . And if I 
cannot turn to him, then who can . . . 
My husband? My poor Arkady, I've not 
given you one thought, not one . . . 
(The music stops. She looks round ^ and 
disposes herself in the armchair. Vera comes in 
from the ballroom, carrying a piece of music.) 

VERA (timidly). Did you want me, 
Natalia Petrovna? 

NATALIA (starting). Ah, Verochka ! 

VERA. Do you feel quite well? 

NATALIA. Perfectly, it's a little close, 
that's all. Vera, I want to have a little talk 
with you. 

VERA (anxiously, putting down her music) . 
Oh? 

NATALIA. A serious talk. Sit down, my 
dear, will you? (As Vera obeys) Now . . . 
Vera, one thinks of you as still a child; 
but it's high time to give a thought to 
your future. You're an orphan, and not a 
rich one at that: sooner or later you are 
bound to tire of living on somebody else's 
property. Now how^ would you like 
suddenly to have control of your very own 
house ? 

VERA. I'm afraid I — I don't follow you, 
Natalia Petrovna 

NATALIA. You are being sought in 
marriage. 

(Vera stares at her. A pause.) 
You didn't expect this? I must confess I 
didn't either; you are still so young. I 
refuse to press you in the slightest — but 
I thought it my duty to let you know. (As 
Vera suddenly covers her face with her hands) 
Vera! My dear . . . What is it? (Taking 
her hands) But you're shaking like a leaf! 

VERA. Natalia Petrovna, I'm in your 
power . . . 

NATALIA. In my power? Vera, what do 
you take me for? (Cajoling, as Vera kisses 
her hands) In my power, indeed — will you 
please take that back, this minute? I 
command you ! (As Vera smiles through her 
tears) That's better . . . (Putting an arm 
round her, and drawing her nearer) Vera, my 
child, I tell you what — ^you'll make 
believe I'm your elder sister — and we'll 



straighten out these strange things to- 
gether — what do you say? 

VERA. If you would like me to — 
yes 

NATALIA. Good . . . Move closer — 
that's better . . . First of all — as you're 
my sister, this is your home ; so there's no 
possible question of anybody pining to be 
rid of you — now is that understood ? 

VERA (whispering) . Yes . . . 

NATALIA. Now One fine day your sister 
comes to you and says 'What do you 
think, little one? Somebody is asking for 
your hand!' Well, what w^ould be your 
first thought? That you're too young? 

VERA. Just as you wish 

NATALIA. Now now — docs a girl say 
'just as you wish' to her sister? 

VERA (smiling). Well, then, I'd just 
say 'I'm too young'. 

NATALIA. Good; your sister would 
agree, the suitor would be given 'no' for 
an answer, fini . . . But suppose he was a 
very nice gentleman with means, prepared 
to bide his time, in the hope that one day 
. . . what then? 

VERA. Who is this suitor? 

NATALIA. Ah, you're curious. Can't 
you guess ? 

VERA. No. 

NATALIA. Bolshintsov. 

VERA. Afanasy Ivanych? 

NATALIA. Afanasy Ivanych. It's true 
he's not very young, and not wildly 

prepossessing 

(Vera begins to laugh, then stops and looks at 
Natalia.) 

VERA. You're joking . . . 

NATALIA (after a pause, smiling). No, 
but I see the matter is closed. If you had 
burst into tears when he was mentioned, 
there might have been some hope for 
him; but you laughed. . . . (Rising, 
smiling wryly) The matter is closed. 

VERA. I'm sorry, but you took me 
completely by surprise . . . Do people 
still get married at his age? 

NATALIA. But how old do you take him 
for? He's on the right side of fifty ! 

VERA. I suppose he is, but he has such 
a peculiar face . . . 

NATALIA. Bolshintsov, my dear, you 
are dead and buried, may you rest in 
peace ... It was foolish of me to forget 



142 



IVAN TURGENEV 



that little girls dream ofmarrying for love. 

VERA. But, Natalia Petrovna . . . didn't 
j^u marry for love ? 

NATALIA (after a pause) . Yes, of course 
I did ... Eh, bien, fini ! Bolshintsov, you 
are dismissed ... I must confess I never 
much fancied that puffy old moon-face 
next to your fresh young cheek. There ! 
. . . (Sitting again ^ next to Vera) And 
you're not frightened of me any more? 

VERA. No, not any more 

NATALIA. Well, then, Verochka 
darling, just vs^hisper quietly in my ear 
. . . you don't vv^ant to marry Bolshintsov 
because he's too old and far from an 
Adonis — but is that the only reason? 

VERA (after a pause) . Natalia Petrovna, 
isn't it reason enough? 

NATALIA. Undoubtedly, my dear . . . 
but you haven't answered my question. 
(A pause.) 

VERA. There's no other reason. 

NATALIA. Oh . . . Of course, that puts 
the matter on rather a different footing. 

VERA. Hov^ do you mean, Natalia 
Petrovna ? 

NATALIA. I realize you can never fall in 
love with Bolshintsov; but he's an ex- 
cellent man. And if there is nobody 
else . . . Isn't there anybody you're fond 
of? 

VERA. Well, there's you, and little 
Kolia 

NATALIA (with a hint of impatience) . 
Vera, you must know what 1 mean . . . 
Out of the young men you've met . . . 
have you formed any attachment at all ? 

VERA. I quite like one or two, but- 



NATALIA. For instance, don't I re- 
member at the Krinitsins your dancing 
three times with a tall officer — what was 
his name 

VERA. With a long mustache ? (Smiling) 
He giggled all the time. 

NATALIA. Oh . . . (After a pause) What 
about our philosopher Rakitin? 

VERA. Mihail Alexandrovich? I'm very 
fond of him, of course, who wouldn't 
be 

NATALIA. An elder brother, I see . . . 
(Suddenly) And the new tutor? 
(A pause.) 

VERA. Alexei Nikolaich? 

NATALIA. Alexei Nikolaich. 



VERA. I like him very much. 
(She has blushed; Natalia is watching her 
narrowly.) 

NATALIA. He is nice, isn't he? Such a 
pity he's so bashful with everybody 

VERA (innocently) . Oh, he isn't bashful 
with me ! 

NATALIA. Isn't he? 

VERA. 1 suppose it's because we're both 
orphans. I think he must appear shy to 
you because he's afraid of you. You see, 
he's had no chance to know you 

NATALIA. Afraid of me? How do you 
know? 

VERA. He told me so. 

NATALIA. He told you . . . 

VERA. Don't you like him, Natalia 
Petrovna ? 

NATALIA. He seems very kind-hearted. 

VERA. Oh, he is ! If you only knew . . . 
(Turning to her, enthusiastically) The whole 
of this household loves him — he's so 
warm, once he's got over his shyness — 
the other day an old beggar-woman had 
to be taken to hospital — do you know he 
carried her the whole way? And one day 
he picked a flower for me off a cliff — he's 
as nimble as a reindeer. D'you remember 
yesterday, when he cleared that tre- 
mendous ditch? And he's always so 
good-tempered and gay 

NATALIA. That doesn't sound a bit like 
him — when he's with me, he 

VERA. But that's what I mean, Natalia 
Petrovna, it's because he doesn't know 
you! I'll tell him how truly kind you 
are 

NATALIA (rising, ironically). Thank 
you, my dear 

VERA. You'll soon see the difference — 
because he listens to what 1 say, though I 
am younger than he is 

NATALIA. I never knew you two were 
such friends. You must be careful. Vera. 

VERA. Careful? 

NATALIA. I know hc's a very pleasant 
young man, but at your age, it's not 
quite . . . People might think . . , (As 
Vera blushes, and looks down) Don't be 
impatient, my dear, will you, if I seem to 
be laying dowTi the law? We older people 
regard it as our business to plague the 
young with our 'don't's' and 'mustn't's.' 
But, as you like him, and nothing more, 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 143 

there's no real need for me to say another it's a touching idea, and may Heaven bless 

word. (Sitting next to her again) Is there? them both. The way she came out with 

VERA (raising her eyes, timidly) . He ... it . . . and I with no idea — (laughing 

NATALIA. Vera, is that the way to look feverishly) — ha! (Rising, vehement) But all 

at a sister? (Caressing her) If your real is not lost — oh no . . . (Stopping, and 

sister asked you very quietly, 'Verochka, collecting herself) But I don't know myself 

what exactly are your feelings towards any more — what am I doing? (After a 

So-and-so?' . . . what would you answer? pause, deliberately) Shall I tell you, Natalia 

(As Vera looks at her, hesitating) Those Petrovna? You're trying to marry a poor 

eyes are dying to tell me something . . . orphan girl to a foolish fond old man — 

(Vera suddenly presses her head to Natalia's you've gone as far as to use that wily old 

breast. Natalia bites her lips.) doctor as a go-between . . . Then there's 

My poor Vera . . . your philosopher, and then your husband 

VERA (without raising her head). Oh . . . what is happening — (panic-stricken, 

dear ... I don't know what's the matter her hands to her face) — what is happening? 

with me . . . (4fi^^ ^ pause, slowly) Unhappy woman, 

NATALIA. My poor sweet . . . (As Vera for the first time in your life . . . you are 

presses herself closer to her) And he . . . in love. 

what of him? (In the ballroom, Vera begins to play on the 

VERA. I don't know . . . pianoforte; the same Chopin mazurka. Natalia 

NATALIA. Vera, what of him? listens, and walks slowly and dreamily out 

VERA. I don't know, I tell you. . . into the garden. The music echoes louder as the 

Sometimes I imagine . . . Curtain slowly falls . ) 
NATALIA. You imagine what? 

VERA (her face hidden). That I see a ACT TWO 
look in his eyes ... as if he thought of 
me — as a special person — perhaps . . . 

(Disengaging herself, trying to be calm) Oh, The drawing-room, a few hours later; 

I don t know afternoon. Natalia is lying on the sofa, an 

(She raises her head, and sees the expression on untouched tray of food beside her. The blinds 

Natalia sjace.) Q^e down, and she is in a fitful sleep. A knock 

What's the matter, Natalia Petrovna? ^t the study door; a pause; another louder 

(Natalia is staring at her, as if she were a knock. 

stranger.) Natalia starts and wakes. 

NATALIA. Th^Tmitt^rl ... (Recovering) . 

What did you say? Nothing 

VERA. But there is something the natalia (calling). Come in . . . 

matter! (Rising) I'll ring (Katia enters, carrying a bottle of smelling- 

NATALIA. No no — don't ring . . . salts; she goes to Natalia, who takes the bottle 
(louder) . . . please ! It's passed off and snifis it. Katia takes the tray of food, 

already. You go back to your music — ^and curtseys, and goes back into the study, shutting 

we — we'll talk another time. the door behind her. Natalia rises and goes to 

VERA. You're not angry with me, the French windows. A pause.) 

Natalia Petrovna? How has it happened? I still don't know 

NATALIA. Not in the least ... I just . . . it's like — like a poison. One minute 

want to be by myself. life was ordinary, the next — everything 

(Vera tries to take her hand; Natalia turns shattered and swept away . . . He's afraid 

away as if she had not noticed her gesture.) of me, the same as everybody else, and as 

VERA (tears in her eyes). Natalia for any qualities I possess, how could he 

Petrovna . . . appreciate them? Rakitin was right, 

NATALIA. Please . . . they're both stupid — how I hate that 

(Vera goes slowly back into the ballroom. clever man! Control yourself. . . 

Natalia does not move.) (Deliberating) Yes, I'm very much taken 

These children love each other . . . Well, with him : very much indeed . . . (After 



SCENE ONE 



144 



IVAN TURGENEV 



a pause) He must go away . . . Love . . . 
so this is what it feels Hke . . . this — 
frightening enchantment ... I'll go to 
Arkady — yes, my sweet trusting husband 
— all the others are strangers, and will 
remain strangers . . . But could she have 
made a mistake — it might be hero- 
w^orship, a sort of calf-love. I'll ask him 
myself . . . (After a pause, reproachfully ) 
What is this, Natalia Petrovna, you refuse 
to give up hope ? And what, pray, are you 
hoping for? O God, don't let me despise 
myself! 

(She hides her head in her hands. Rakitin 
comes in from the garden. He is pale and 
disturbed. He sees her. J 

RAKITIN. Natalia Petrovna . . . 
(He raises the blinds; the room is flooded with 
sunlight. J 

NATALIA (raising her head). Yes, who 
is it? (Seeing him) Oh . . . 

RAKITIN. We waited for you at the 
picnic — Kolia and everybody were bitterly 
disappointed 

NATALIA. I had a bad headache. I sent a 



message 

RAKITIN. 

forgive me. 

NATALIA. 
RAKITIN. 

morning . . 



I've come to ask 



you 



to 



Forgive you? 

I made a fool of myself this 
You see, Natalia Petrovna, 
however modest a man's hopes . . . when 
they are suddenly snatched away, it's 
hard not to lose control, just for a 
moment. But I am myself again. (After a 
pause, kneeling before her) Please don't 
turn away, as I did — I am once more the 
Michel you've always known, the man 
who asks nothing better than to be your 
servant — you remember what you said? 
(As she sits motionless, gazing at the floor) 
'There's nobody in the world . . .' — 
remember ? Give me back your trust ! 

^ AT \L\\ (absently) . Yes . . . (Collecting 
herself) I'm sorry, I haven't heard a word 
you've been saying . . . Michel, what is 
the matter with me? 

RAKITIN. You are in love. 
(A pause.) 

NATALIA (slowly). But Michel, it's 
madness — can it happen so suddenly ? . . . 
(Brusquely) She loves him, you know. 
They love each other . . . Michel, please 
— please tell me what to do ! 



RAKITIN. I will, on one condition : that 
you'll have complete faith in my dis- 
interested wish to help you. 

NATALIA. I will — I will ! Michel, I'm 
standing on the edge of a precipice. Save 
me ! 

RAKITIN. He must go away. 
(A pause. She looks at him.) 
Right away. I won't drag in — your hus- 
band, or your duty, because such senti- 
ments would not come well from me . . . 
but if these children love each other . . . 
imagine yourself standing between them. 

NATALIA. He must go. 

RAKITIN. For the sake of your hap- 
piness, both he and I . . . must go away 
for good. 

NATALIA. You — ^go away too ? 

RAKITIN. It's the only way out. 

NATALIA (desperately) . And then — 
what ? What shall I have to live for ? 

RAKITIN. But — your husband, your 
son . . . What have you to live for, 
indeed ! . . . (As Natalia looks away, 
without answering) Listen — I'll stay a day 
or two after he's gone, just to make sure 
that you 

T<i ATT MAA ( sombrely ) . I see. 

RAKITIN. You see what? 

NATALIA. That you are counting on a 
force of habit — which you call our old 
friendship — bringing me close to you 
again — am I right? 

RAKITIN. Now you are insulting me. 
After your promise just now . . . when 
all I want on earth is for your good name 
to shine untarnished before the world 

NATALIA. My good name? But this is 
something new — why have you never 
mentioned it before? 

(He shakes his head despairingly, and makes 
to go; she holds out her hand towards him. J 
Michel . . . 

RAKITIN (taking her in his arms, over- 
come) . Natalia Petrovna 

NATALIA. Can anyone ever have been 
so unhappy . . . (Leaning against his 
shoulder) Help me, Michel — without you 
I am lost . . . 

YSLAEv's VOICE. Mind you, Mamma, 

it's always been my firm opinion 

(He enters from the hall, Anna Semyenovna on 
his arm. They both see Rakitin and Natalia, 
and stop in amazement. Natalia turns her 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



HS 



head, sees them, gives a distracted sob, and 
hurries into the study. Rakitin stands where 
he is, acutely embarrassed.) 

ANNA. Well, upon my soul ! What's 
the matter with Natalia Petrovna 

RAKITIN. Nothing, I tell you — really 
nothing 

ANNA. But my dear Mihail Alexan- 
drovich, it couldn't be nothing! Well, 
upon my soul . . . (Making for the study) 
I'll go and ask her, point blank 

RAKITIN. No, I beg of you 

YSLAEV. But I should like to be 
enlightened — what's behind it all? 
(Anna sits on the sofa, and glares at Rakitin.) 

RAKITIN. There's nothing behind it, 
Arkady, I swear to you. I promise on my 
word of honor, that tomorrow morning 
I'll explain the whole thing. 

YSLAEV. I — I'm right out of my depth 
— Natalia's never behaved like this before 
— it's quite fantastic 

ANNA. But she was crying! I could see 
the tears — and dashing out as if we were 
a couple of perfect strangers 

RAKITIN. Listen, dear people, both of 
you. Natalia Petrovna and I were in the 
throes of a discussion, and I must ask you 
— ^just for a moment — to leave us 
completely alone. 

YSLAEV. Alone? But is there a secret 
between you? 

RAKITIN. In a way, yes — ^but you shall 
know it. 

YSLAEV (after a pause). Very well. 
Mamma, we'll leave them to wind up this 
mysterious duologue in camera 

ANNA. But what on earth 

YSLAEV. Come along, Mamma, please 
don't let it be one of your obstinate days. 

RAKITIN. I beg of you to rest assured — 

YSLAEV (coldly) . I require no assurance , 
thank you. 

ANNA. I repeat 

YSLAEV (to Anna, sternly). Mamma . . . 
(Anna rises, takes his arm and they both go 
into the ballroom. When he is sure they are 
out oj earshot, Rakitin hurries to the study 
door.) 

RAKITIN (calling) . Natalia Petrovna . . . 
(Natalia comes back Jrom the study; she is 
very pale.) 

NATALIA. What did they say? 

RAKITIN. I said I'd explain the whole 



thing tomorrow, which means we have 
today anyway — (as she sways, and he leads 
her to a chair) — I'll think of something — 
you can see now, can't you, that we 
cannot go on like this? I'll have a word 
with him presently ; I feel sure somehow 
that he's a boy with the right instincts, 
and he'll see at once 

NATALIA. A word with him? But what 
will you say? 

RAKITIN. Why, that he and I must leave 
here at once. 
(A pause.) 

NATALIA. Rakitin, do let us be careful. 

RAKITIN. Go on. 

NATALIA. Are we not being a little 
rash? I lost my head for a minute, and 
made you lose yours — and all for nothing, 
we may discover 

RAKITIN. For nothing? 

NATALIA. I mean it! What are we 
doing? It seems only a moment ago that 
this was a house of quiet and peace — and 
look at us now ! Really, this nonsense has 
gone far enough, we're going to take life 
up where we left off — and as for this 
dramatic rencontre you're planning with 
my husband — don't bother, because I'll 
tell him myself all about our little teacup 
tempest, and we'll sit back together and 
laugh about it. 

RAKITIN. Natalia Petrovna, this is 
dangerous talk indeed. 

NATALIA, what do you mean ? 

RAKITIN. You're smiling, but you're 
deathly pale. 

NATALIA. You don't think I've changed 
my mind about — about the young tutor 
leaving? Because I propose to dismiss him 
myself. 

RAKITIN. Yourself? 

NATALIA. He must have come back 
with the others — send him to me, will 
you? 

RAKITIN. Now? 

NATALIA. This minute. You see, I'm so 
completely recovered, I know I can do it. 

RAKITIN . But what will you say to him ? 
He confessed to me himself that he's 
always tongue-tied with you 

NATALIA (sharply). You've already 
discussed me with him? . . . (As he looks 
at her, a cold fixed look) I'm sorry, Michel 
— send him to me, there's a dear; I'll 



146 



IVAN TURGENEV 



give him his conge, and everything will be 
over and done with, like a bad dream. 

RAKiTiN. Very well. 

NATALIA (as he goes to the ballroom door) . 
Thank you, Michel 

RAKITIN (turning, in an outburst). Oh, 
please — at least spare me your gratitude . . . 
(He controls himself and hurries into the 
ballroom. A pause.) 

NATALIA (touched). Michel, you're a 
truly generous creature . . . But have I 
ever really loved you ? 

RAKITIN ' s VOICE (in the hall) . Monsieur 
Beliaev ! One moment . . . 
(Natalia starts, crosses, and sits on the sofa in 
readiness Jor the interview.) 

NATALIA. One last effort, and I shall be 
free. Freedom and peace . . . (shutting her 
eyes) . . . how I long for you both . . . 
(Beliaev enters from the ballroom. He comes 
down, inquiringly, and looks at her. A pause.) 

BELIAEV. Natalia Petrovna. (As she 
opens her eyes, and looks at him) You sent 
for me? 

NATALIA. I should like an explanation. 

BELIAEV. An explanation? 

NATALIA (without looking at him, after a 
pause). I'm afraid . . . I'm dissatisfied 
with you. 

BELIAEV (dumbfounded) . Dissatisfied? 
(As she rises and wanders restlessly) If I have 
given any impression of neglecting my 
duties 

NATALIA. No, no, I've been more than 
pleased with the way you've been handling 
Kolia 

BELIAEV. Then — excuse me — what 

NATALIA. Please don't take it too 
much to heart. You're very young, and 
never having lived in a strange house 
before, you could hardly have foreseen 
. . . Alexei Nikolaich, it's just this : 
Verochka has made a clean breast to me 
of the whole thing. 
(She looks at him. A pause.) 

BELIAEV (bewildered) . Vera Alex- 



androvna ? 




NATALIA. 


Yes. 


BELIAEV. 


But . 


of what ? 




NATALIA. 


You 


guess ? 




BELIAEV. 


No. 


NATALIA. 


Oh 



don't know . . . then please forgive me — 
let's say no more about it . . . (Looking at 
him again, while he stares at her, still 
bewildered) Do you know that I'm not 
sure I believe you? Though I understand 
exactly why you should pretend 

BELIAEV. I'm sorry, Natalia Petrovna, 
but I have not the faintest idea to what 
you are referring. 

NATALIA. Now come, you can't 
pretend that you haven't noticed ! 

BELIAEV. Noticed what? 

NATALIA. That she is head over heels in 
love with you. She told me herself . . . 
Well? 

BELIAEV. I . . . But — I've always be- 
haved to Vera Alexandrovna 

NATALIA. I put the question to you as 
to a man of honor — what are your 
intentions ? 

BELIAEV. My — intentions? 

NATALIA. Yes. 

BELIAEV (acutely embarrassed) . Natalia 
Petrovna, this — this is a bolt from the 
blue. 

NATALIA (after a pause). I'm not doing 
this at all well . . . You think I'm angry 
with you — don't you? I'm not, I'm just 
. . . concerned — understandably, I think. 
Shall we sit down? 

(She sits. Beliaev hesitates, and sits next to 
her.) 

Vera loves you — oh, I know that's not 
your fault, I'm quite ready to believe you 
had nothing to do with it . . . but you see, 
Alexei Nikolaich, I'm directly responsible 
for her future. At her age such upheavals 
do not last long, and now that I've told 
you, I know I can rely on you to change 
your attitude towards her. 

BELIAEV. But Natalia Petrovna ... in 
what way? 

NATALIA. By avoiding her . . . (After a 
pause) Mind you, when I told you all that, 
I took it for granted that on your side 
there was nothing. 

BELIAEV (perplexed) . And if there had 
been? 

NATALIA. If there had been . . . You're 
not rich, but you're young, you have a 
future, and if two people love each 
other . . . 

BELIAEV. But 

Well, if you really natalia (hastily). Oh, please don't 



made a clean breast 



You mean to say you cannot 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



147 



think I'm trying to extort a confession 
from you ... I must remind you, though, 
that Vera was under the impression that 
you were not entirely indifferent to her. 
(A pause. Beliaev rises, acutely perplexed. J 

BELIAEV. As you have been frank with 
me, Natalia Petrovna, may I be frank 
with you ? 

NATALIA. By all means 

BELIAEV. I have a great affection for 
Vera Alexandrovna, but not — anything — 
anything more at all . . . and if, as you 
say, she is under the impression that I — 
that I am not indifferent to her, I must 
tell her the truth. But having told her, it 
would create too painful a situation . . . 
and it will be impossible for me to stay 
on here. 

NATALIA (after a pause) . I see . . . 

BELIAEV. I knew you would ... I need 
not tell you how hard it will be for me to 
leave your house 

NATALIA. Will it? 

BELIAEV. I shall always think of you 
with — with the deepest gratitude . . . 
(After a pause) Will you excuse me for 
now? I shall ask the honor of taking my 
formal leave of you, later on 

NATALIA. Just as you wish . . . (As he 
turns to go) But I must confess . . . 

BELIAEV. Yes? 

NATALIA. I didn't expect quite this. 
(Rising) All I intended was to remind you 
that Vera is still a child. I rather feel now 
that I've exaggerated — is it absolutely 
necessary for you to go ? 

BELIAEV. I'm sorry, but I don't see 
how I can stay. 

NATALIA. I'm not in the habit of 
pressing people against their will, but I 
must confess to being a little displeased 
by this turn of events. 

BELIAEV. Displeased? . . . Natalia 
Petrovna — (hesitating) — I — I'll stay. 

NATALIA. Ah . . . (After a pause) You \e 
changed your mind very quickly? (Another 
pause, then spasmodically) Perhaps you're 
right, perhaps you ought to go after all. 

BELIAEV. Thank you. I am at your 
service. (He bows and makes to go) 

NATALIA. One thing, though — you 
said you were going to explain something 
to Vera — I question the wisdom of that, 
very much. 



BELIAEV. I bow to your wishes. 

NATALIA (as he goes) . As for your going 
away, I'll let you know this evening. 
(Beliaev inclines his head and goes out into 
the hall. A pause.) 

He does not love her ! . . . Though I can't 
be proud of an interview that starts off 
dismissing him, and ends up begging him 
to stay. (Going up, and sitting at the table) 
And what right had I to tell him the poor 
girl's madly in love with him, I who 
dragged the confession out of her, and in 
such a heartless, cruel way — not even a 
confession, a half-avowal — (covering her 
face with her hands) — what have I done! 
. . . Perhaps he was beginning to fall in 
love with her? If he was, what right had 
I to trample such a flower into the mud. 
. . . But have I trampled it right in — 
perhaps he was deceiving me — after all, 
I did my best to deceive him . . . No, 
he's too highminded; not like me . . . 
When I think how crafty I tried to be with 
him, and how courageously he dealt with 
me ; he was a man, suddenly ... If he 
stays ... I forgo any self-respect I ever 
had. (Rising) He leaves, or Natalia 
Petrovna — is lost. I'll write to him — 
before he has time to see her — he must 
go! 

(She clasps her hands and walks swiftly up the 
stairs and into the hall.) 

QUICK CURTAIN 

SCENE TWO 

A corner of the garden, a few hours later; 
evening. Fitful sunlight; storm-clouds have 
gathered. 

A pause. Katia enters cautiously from the 
left, looks round, tiptoes quickly across and 
peers anxiously over to the right. 



KATIA. I can't see him . . . bother! 
Then why did they tell me he was coming 
over to the greenhouse? I wish he'd hurry 
up, now's the time, while they're all at 
the schoolroom tea . . . (Sighing, sitting 
on the seat) Can it be true, this nasty tale 
that he's going away? . . . (After another 
sigh) Poor little thing . . . the way she 
begged and begged me ! . . . Well, the 
least they can ask for is a last little chat 



148 



IVAN TURGENEV 



together, the sweet pets . . . Mercy, what 
a hot day it's been . . . but it looks as if 
the rain might start any minute . . . 
(Looking out, and stepping quickly hack) My 
goodness, they're not coming down here 

— yes they are — oh mercy me 

(She runs oj^ ^ight, as Lizaveta and the 
Doctor enter Jrom the left. J 

THE DOCTOR. Looks like another 
downpour — we'll shelter in this corner — 
what d'you say? 

LIZAVETA. Oh — (confused) — I don't 
know, I'm sure 

THE DOCTOR. You must admit, Liza- 
veta Bogdanovna, that the clouds have 
picked the most awkward moment to 
gather. (As they settle on the seat) Just as 
we were getting to a — shall I say a soulful 
stage ? 

LIZAVETA. Soulful? (With downcast 
eyes) Oh, Ignaty Illyich . . . 

THE DOCTOR. But now they're all over 
in the schoolroom, we can sit here and 
take up the sentimental cudgels where we 
left off . . . 

LIZAVETA. Cudgels — the things you 
think of . . . 

THE DOCTOR. Snuff? 

LIZAVETA. Well, just this once . . . 

THE DOCTOR ( as they both snijf) . By the 
way, did you say the old tabby was in one 
of her tantrums today ? 

LIZAVETA. The master's mother? I 
should think she is. You know what 
happened this afternoon, don't you — oh 
no I mustn't, it's scandal 

THE DOCTOR. Oh yes you must, or I'll 



lock you up in a cupboard- 

LiZAVETA. oh, you are a terror ! Well, 
she walked in here and found Natalia 
Petrovna with her professor as she calls 
him, with her head on his shoulder — 
crying ! 

THE DOCTOR. Crying? You don't say 
. . . But take it from me, Rakitin's not to 
be labelled as a dangerous customer. 

LIZAVETA. How Very very interesting 
— why, do you think? 

THE DOCTOR. Much too good a con- 
versationalist. Ordinary men may lose 
their heads and behave like beasts, but 
with those clever ones the whole thing 
gushes away down a wastepipe of talk. 
It's the quiet ones with eyes like live 



coals and a broad back of the neck — the 
world over, that spells red for danger . . . 
But shall we leave the riff-raff, bless 'em, 
and glance at our own affairs ? Well ? 

LIZAVETA (her eyes fluttering). Well, 
said the echo . . . 

THE DOCTOR. Would you object to my 
inquiring why, w^hen one puts to you a 
simple question, you raise and lower your 
eyeballs as if you were a mechanical doll ? 

LIZAVETA (rattled). Oh — Doctor 

THE DOCTOR (rising, and pacing). 
We're neither of us chickens, and all this 
simpering about the bush doesn't suit us 
in the least. What d'you say to a down- 
to-earth chat, in keeping with — with the 
length of our teeth ? 

LIZAVETA. O dear. 

THE DOCTOR. To Start with, we like 
each other; and in other ways surely, 
we're well suited. I must, in fairness, 
describe myself as not exactly of high 
descent 

LIZAVETA (tolerantly) . Ah, but a natural 
gentleman 

THE DOCTOR. But then of course 
you're not exactly blue blood yourself. 
I'm not rolling in money; if I were, I'd 
obviously be flying higher, but still . . . 
I've got a respectable enough practice; 
not all my patients die . . . And I may 
take it, I hope, that after fifteen years, the 
first careless rapture of being a governess 
is wearing off, and that you're also just 
about sick of waiting hand over fist on a 
female dragon, when you're not cheating 
at cards to make her. think she's won. 
(Sitting again) Eh? 

LIZAVETA. Oh dear . . . 

THE DOCTOR. Then there's me. I can't 
say I'm tired of being a bachelor — on the 
contrary, suits me to a T; but I'm not 
getting any younger, and my cook is 
robbing me. So everything fits in nicely. 
. . . But there's one thing, Lizaveta 
Bogdanovna; you don't know me. I know 
you, of course, backwards. 

LIZAVETA (not sure whether she is on her 
head or her heels). Oh, Doctor, really? 

THE DOCTOR. Backwards. And I can't 
say you're entirely free from faults. 
LIZAVETA (stiffy) . Such as ? 

THE DOCTOR. For One thing, being a 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



149 



spinster for so long has turned you a little 
bit sour. 

LIZAVETA. Oh. 

THE DOCTOR. But that would right 
itself in a jiffy — in the moral hands of a 
good husband, a wife is clay . . . But 
before the ting-a-ling of wedding bells, 
I'm more than anxious for you to know 
me, so you can't turn on me afterwards. 
I won't have any w^ool over your eyes — 
see what I mean ? For example , it wouldn ' t 
surprise me if you took me for a cheerful 
man? 

LIZAVETA. Cheerful? Oh, but of 
course — I've always known you were one 
to set the table in a roar 

THE DOCTOR. Exactly. Just because I 
play the fool, and tell the gentry funny 
stories, you label me like a shot as a 
sanguine character. Shall I tell you 
something? If those gentry weren't being 
damned useful to me, I wouldn't look at 
'em twice. As it is, give me half a chance 
to poke fun at 'em to their faces without 
actually flicking 'em on the raw^, and I'll 
take it. I get my own back — oh yes ! 

LIZAVETA. D'you include Natalia 
Petrovna ? 

THE DOCTOR (mimicking J . 'Now 

Doctor, you've a tongue like a rapier, 
which is what I like and respect you 
for . . .' He he he, coo away, my dove, 
coo away! She's like all the others, that 
crinkle up their society faces at you in a 
permanent smile of hail-fellow-well-met, 
and all the time you can see their eyes 
writing the word 'peasant' flat across your 
phiz; say what you like, they've no use 
for us. And just because they drench 
themselves in eau-de-Cologne and drawl 
every syllable as if they were dropping it 
accidentally for you to pick up, they think 
you can't trip 'em by the heels. They're 
human just like us poor sinners, and 
what's more . . . (with meaning) . . . 
they're not saints themselves. 

LIZAVETA. Ignaty Illyich, you take my 
breath away. 

THE DOCTOR. I knew I would. Any- 
way, I must have proved to you that I'm 
not a sanguine character. Mind you, 
don't think because I play the fool that 
any of 'em has ever dared to snub me. 
They're even scared of me; they know I 



can bite. There was a big dinner once, 
and sitting a yard from me a landowner 
fellow — regular son of the soil suddenly 
up to his knees in filthy lucre ; well, just 
for a joke, in front of the whole room, 
he took a radish and stuck it in my hair. 

LIZAVETA. He didn't! Heavens, what 
did you do ? 

THE DOCTOR. Rose quietly to my full 
height, removed the offending vegetable 
from my person, bowed, and with the 
utmost cool courtesy challenged him to a 
duel. 

LIZAVETA (thrilled and shocked). Oh! 
What did he do ? 

THE DOCTOR. Nearly had a stroke. 
Then in front of the whole room, the 
host made him ask my pardon ; it had the 
most tremendous effect on everybody. Of 
course I'd known beforehand he was a 
martyr to gout and wouldn't fight any- 
way, but still . . . What I'm getting at, 
Lizaveta Bogdanovna, is that although I 
have an unconscionable amount of self- 
esteem, my life hasn't really come up to 
scratch. Nobody could call me well-read, 
and I'm not a good doctor — it's no use 
pretending I am, and if you ever fall ill, 
take a tip from one who knows, and 
don't call me in . . . I'm good enough for 
these provincial invalids, of course, but 
it ends there. And now my personal 
habits. 

LIZAVETA (apprehensively) . Personal 
habits — yes ? 

THE DOCTOR. In my own home I am 
extremely morose, abnormally silent, and 
highly exacting. Have I made myself clear? 

LIZAVETA. Yes ... oh yes . . . 

THE DOCTOR. Though in fairness I 
must add that so long as my habits are 
observed and good hot food is served 
consistently before me, I keep my 
temper. What d'you say? 

LIZAVETA. Ignaty Illyich, what can I 
say? Unless you've been slandering your- 
self on purpose 

THE DOCTOR (rising^ and pacing). But 
you silly woman, I haven't been slandering 
myself at all ! Kindly keep in mind that 
any other man w^ould ha' died rather than 
breathe a word till after the wedding, 
when it'd be too late — no, I'm too proud 
to do that. 



i^o 



IVAN TURGENEV 



LIZAVETA (looking at him). Proud? 

THE DOCTOR. Ycs, you Can stare as 
much as you like — proud. To a stranger 
I'd bow to the ground for a sack of flour, 
saying to myself, * What a fool, my friend, 
how you rise to the bait . . . how you 
rise ! ' (Sitting again J But to you, Lizaveta 
Bogdanovna — (taking her hand) my future 
spouse ... I say what I think. At least, I 
don't say everything I think — I must be 
frank — but near enough not to mislead 
you. Well, that's me. A funny old stick, 
eh? 

LIZAVETA. A little — ah — eccentric, 
perhaps 

THE DOCTOR. One of these days I'll 
tell you the story of my early life, and 
you'll be amazed that I've come through 
as well as I have . . . And now I'll give 
you a little time to chew the cud, what 
d'you say? 

LIZAVETA. Oh . . . 

THE DOCTOR. You shut yoursclf up 
somewhere, go carefully into the whole 
thing, and let me know. By the way, how 
old are you? 

LIZAVETA (knocked off her perch). Oh. 
Thirty. 

THE DOCTOR. No you'rc not, you're 
forty. 

LIZAVETA (with spirit). No I'm not, 
I — I'm thirty-six. 

THE DOCTOR. Well, thirty-six isn't 
thirty. That's another habit you'll have 
to get rid of, Lizaveta Bogdanovna. 
Anyway a married w^oman of thirty-six 
isn't old at all. You shouldn't take snuff 
either. (Rising) I think it's clearing up. 

LIZAVETA (rising). Yes, it seems to 
have blown over, doesn't it? 

THE DOCTOR. So I may expect to hear 
from you in a day or two ? 

LIZAVETA (suddenly practical). To- 
morrow^. 

THE DOCTOR. Good ! I like that, 
Lizaveta Bogdanovna — common sense, 
nothing like it — oh, just one more thing. 

LIZAVETA (turning). Yes? 

THE DOCTOR. I haven't kissed your 
hand, and I believe in these circumstances 
it's expected . . . (She holds out her hand; 
he kisses it, while she blushes) That's over . . . 
(She takes his arm and thej go out to the left. 
Katia emerges cautiously Jrom the right.) 



KATiA. Mercy, what a spiteful man! 
And the things he said ! . . . And now I've 
missed just what I came down here for. 
. . . (Sitting on the seat) And so Lizaveta 
Bogdanovna will be Mrs. Medicine — 
(giggling) — oh dear, it's so funny, I'm 
glad I'm not in her shoes . . . It's 
actually been raining over by the green- 
house . . . the grass looks as if it's had a 
wash. And what a lovely smell. Must be 
the wild cherry. (Sentimentally) Oh dear. 
. . . Here he is ! . . . 
(Beliaev appears Jrom the left.) 
(Calling cautiously) Alexei Nikolaich! 
(Louder) Alexei Nikolaich! 

BELIAEV (turning). Yes, who wants 
me? (Coming up to the secft) Oh, Katia, it's 
you! 

KATiA. I want to tell you something. 

BELIAEV. Tell me something? All 
right — (sitting beside her) Ecco ! D'you 
know, Katia, you're looking damnably 
pretty today? 

KATIA (blushing and giggling) . Oh go 
on . . . 

BELIAEV. You are. (Taking one from his 
pocket) Peach? 

KATIA. No thank you, really — you 
have it 

BELIAEV. Did I turn down the red 
currants you offered me yesterday? Come 
on, take it — 1 picked it for you. 

KATIA. Oh, did you? . . . Thank you 
ever so much 

BELIAEV (as she takes the peach) . That's 
the style . . . Well, what was it you 
wanted to whisper in my ear? 

KATIA. Oh . . . It's just that Vera 
Alexandrovna — that the young lady is 
very anxious to see you. 

BELIAEV. Oh . . . (His face falling) Is 
she? 

KATIA. She's over by the plum tree, 
waiting for me to fetch her — you 
wouldn't be disturbed down here, she 
said, with them all still at the birthday 
tea 

BELIAEV (taken aback). Oh ... I 
see . . . 

KATIA. She's very fond of you. 
(Sighing, deeply, then going) I shan't be a 
minute — (stopping, and turning) — Alexei 
Nikolaich, is it true what they say? 

BELIAEV. What? 



I 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



i^i 



KATIA. That you're leaving US ? 

BELIAEV. Leaving? I — ^w^ho told you? 

KATIA. So you're not going ? (Delighted) 
Oh, gracious Heaven be thanked! (Em- 
barrassed, primly) We'll be back presently. 
(She runs off to the right. A pause.) 

BELIAEV. The most fantastic things are 
happening to me. Vera's a sw^eet little 
thing w^ith the kindest of hearts, I'm sure, 
but . . . And vs^hat would be the meaning 
of a note like this — (taking a scrap of 
paper from his pocket) — from Natalia 
Petrovna? (Reading) 'Please make no 
decisions until I have seen you again.' 
What could she want to see me about? 
. . . (After a pause, rising) The stupidest 
thoughts will keep coming into my head. 
. . . Whatever it is, it's all damnably 
embarrassing. If somebody had told me 
three weeks ago that I . . . I . . . What I 
still can't make head or tail of, is that 
conversation I had with her . . . (Sitting 
again) Lord, I wish my heart would stop 
thumping like this . . . 
(Vera enters from the right with Katia; she is 
very pale, and keeps her eyes averted. Beliaev 
jumps up.) 

KATIA. Don't be frightened, miss — 

it'll be all right 

(She hurries back to the right. A pause.) 

BELIAEV. Vera Alexandrovna, you 
wished to see me. Won't you sit down? 
(Taking her hand, leading her to the seat, and 
sitting beside her) But you've been crying! 

VERA. You've been dismissed, haven't 
you? 

BELIAEV. Who told you? 

VERA. Natalia Petrovna herself. I had 
to talk to you, to — ask your pardon. 

BELIAEV. Pardon? But what for? 

VERA. If you only knew how this has 
upset me, Alexei Nikolaich — to be the 
cause of the whole thing — (starting to cry, 
then controlling herself) 

BELIAEV. You the cause of it? But Vera 
Alexandrovna, nothing's settled, I assure 
you. It's quite possible I shall stay 

VERA. No, everything's settled, Alexei 
Nikolaich — everything's over. When you 
think how you are with me now, and only 
yesterday, in the garden ... do you 
remember? 

(A pause. Shefghts back her tears, rises, then 
turns to him.) 



Alexei Nikolaich, is it true that you 
weren't exactly dismissed — that it was 
you who were anxious to go ? 

BELIAEV. Why? 

VERA. Answer me ! 

BELIAEV. I — yes. You were right. She 
told me everything. 

VERA (faintly) . That I . . . was in love 
with you? 

BELIAEV (stammering) . Yes. 

VERA (quickly). It isn't true! 

BELIAEV. But . . . if it isn't true . . . 
why should she 

VERA. At least — I didn't tell her — I 
don't remember . . . (Her hands to her 
face) Oh, how cruel of her . . . And is 
that why you wanted to leave ? 

BELIAEV. I ask you. Vera Alexandrovna, 
what else could I have done . . . (He 
vyalks away in despair) 

VERA. He doesn't love me . . . 
(She shakes her head, and covers her face 
again with her hands. He sits beside her.) 

BELIAEV. Vera Alexandrovna, please 
. . . Give me your hand . . . (Taking it) I 
do love you, Verochka, because it's 
impossible not to 

VERA. You . . . you mean 

BELIAEV. In the same way I love my 
sister — (as she turns away) I'm sorry — oh 
lord, I've never in my life been in a 
situation like this ... I'd do anything 
rather than hurt you. . . . (With resolution) 
The best thing is not to pretend anything 
to you at all, don't you think so? 

VERA. Yes yes 

BELIAEV. Well, I know that you — 
you've grown fond of me. But you see, 
Verochka, I'm just twenty-one, and 

haven't a farthing to bless myself with 

(As Vera stifles a sob) I — oh lord, I don't 
know what to say to you 

VERA. But I haven't asked you to say 
anything — and suddenly to bring up your 
prospects — oh, it's so cruel 

BELIAEV. I'm sorry, Verochka 

VERA. It isn't your fault, Alexei 
Nikolaich. I don't even blame her; she 
just lost her head. 

BELIAEV (puzzled). Lost her head? 
(A pause.) 

VERA. Yes. I'm not the only one who's 
given herself away. (Turning to him) She's 
in love with you. 



1^2 



IVAN TURGENEV 



BELIAEV (after a pause, thinking he has 
not heard right) . What did you say ? 

VERA. She's in love with you. 

BELIAEV. Natalia Petrovna? . . . (Stag- 
gered) What — do you know what you're 
saying ? 

VERA. Yes. You see, today has made 
me years older . . . And she took it into 
her head to be jealous of me — me! 

BELIAEV. I don't believe it. 

VERA. Then why did she suddenly try 
and palm me off on to that old gentleman ? 
If you could have seen her when I broke 
dowTi and — and confessed . . . her face 
changed before my eyes. Yes, she's in 
love with you . . . 

BELIAEV (after a pause). I still think 
you've made a mistake. 

VERA (wearily). I haven't, I haven't. 
. . . what have I ever done to her to 
torment me like that, unless it's to make 
her jealous? And now she's dismissed you, 
because she imagines that you and I . . . 
(Hiding her head again) 

BELIAEV. But she hasn't even dismissed 
me, I've told you. Nothing at all is settled, 
yet. 

VERA (raising her head and looking at 
him) . Nothing at all ? 

BELIAEV. Nothing . . . Why are you 
looking at me like that? 
(Natalia enters from the left; she sees them 
both, and stops. They have not seen her.) 

VERA. Because it's all perfectly clear 
to me now. She's come to her senses, and 
realized that she has nothing to fear from 
a gawky schoolgirl. And anyway perhaps 
oL/'re in love with her. 

BELIAEV. I? 

VERA. You've turned quite red. 

BELIAEV. Have I? 

VERA. Are you in love with her? Or 
may you be, in time? (After a pause) You 
don't answer me. 

BELIAEV. But what do you expect me 
to say 

VERA (turning away) . Oh, please stop 
talking to me as if I were five years old ! 
And you will console me — I just can't 

bear it 

(She rises, makes to go out to the left, and 

fnds herself face to face with Natalia. Beliaev 

turns, and springs to his feet. A pause. 



y 



Natalia comes forward, slowly; she is out- 
wardly composed and icily dignified.) 

NATALIA. I'm sorry to see, Verochka, 
that you're becoming very headstrong. 
I've reminded you more than once — and 
you too, sir, appear to have forgotten that 
you gave me your word . . . You have 
deceived me. Verochka, I'm just a little 
cross with you 

VERA. Don't you think it's time you 
dropped all this as well ? 
(Natalia looks at her in amazement.) 

NATALIA. What do you mean? 

VERA. I mean this talking to me as if I 
were still a child. From today on, I'm a 
woman ... a woman like yourself. 

NATALIA (quickly). Vera 

VERA. He hasn't deceived you; he 
doesn't love me, you know. So you've no 
reason in the world to be jealous of me. 

NATALIA (shocked). Vera! 

VERA. And will you please not throw 
any more dust in my eyes, because it just 
won't be any good . . . For the simple 
reason I'm no longer your ward, watched 
over by a tolerant and mocking elder 
sister — I'm your rival ! 
(A pause.) 

NATALIA. You foTget yourself. 

VERA. And if I do, who is to blame? I 
dare talk to you like this, because I've 
nothing to hope for any more — you've 
seen to that . . . But I'm not going to 
pretend with you, as you did with me. 
I've told him. 
(A pause.) 

NATALIA. Told him — ^what? 

VERA. Something I noticed. You hoped 
to worm everything out of me without 
giving anything away about yourself, 
didn't you? 

NATALIA. Vera — I entreat you — you 
don't know what you're saying 

VERA. Then will you tell me I'm 
dreaming? That you don't love him? 
After all, he's made it perfectly plain that 
he doesn't love me . . . 
(She bursts into tears and stumbles out to the 
left. A pause. It begins to grow dark. 
Beliaev makes to go, then turns.) 

BELIAEV. Natalia Petrovna, is it any 
good my assuring you . . . (He shakes his 
head, and makes to go again) 

NATALIA. She was right, it's no good 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



1^3 



my pretending any more. The only 
possible way in which I can hope to 
regain your respect — and my own — is to 
be perfectly frank. Besides, as we shall 
never see each other again . . . this is the 
last time I shall ever speak to you. (Going 
to him) She was telling the truth. I love 
you. 
(A pause.) 

BELiAEV. You . . . Natalia Petrovna . . . 

NATALIA (with a strained and deliberate 
calm). From the very first day, I loved 
you; though it was only yesterday that I 
was fully aware of it. 

BELIAEV (almost in a whisper). Natalia 
Petrovna . . . 

NATALIA (crossing quickly). One thing 
— please understand that it is pride, and 
pride only, that gives me the courage to 
tell you this; the farce of pretending 
revolted me to the marrow — (sitting) — 
and I have been desperately anxious to 
wipe from your mind this picture of a 
tyrannical, cunning creature — anxious 
that the memory of me which you take 
away, shall not be . . . too vile ... I was 
jealous of her and 1 took advantage of my 
authority — it was all despicably unworthy 
of me, and we'll leave it at that. I have 
only one excuse, that I was in the power 
of something I knew nothing of. (After a 
pause, with more emotion) You have nothing 
to say. . . . But then I do understand why, 
I do : for a man to have to listen to a 
declaration of love from a w^oman to 
whom he is indifferent — there can be 
nothing more painful, I am even grateful 
for your silence. You must feel intensely 
uncomfortable even in my presence — you 
have my permission to leave it at once, 
without formality ... It seems that we 
two w^ere never destined to know each 
other. Good-by for ever. 
(A pause. Beliaev tries to say something. Jails, 
hows, makes to go, then turns.) 

NATALIA. Well? 

1 can't go. 



BELIAEV. 

(A pause.) 

NATALIA 



BELIAEV. 

low can 



You . . . can't go? 

Not like this — ^how 
I? . . . (Controlling 
Natalia Petrovna . . . I — 1 — oh God, why 
can't I find the w^ords to say it . . . I'm 
sorry, I don't know how to talk to 



can I — 

himself) 



women . . . She was right, you know, 
I was afraid of you — and still am. I'm not 
exaggerating when I say that 1 looked upon 
you as a creature from another planet — a 
truly heavenly being . . . and yet, when 
you said 

NATALIA (softly) . Go on. 

BELIAEV. When you told me that you 
. . . love me . . . (Sitting beside her with an 
exultant cry) Natalia Petrovna, you love 
me! I can hear my heart beating, as I've 
never heard it before ... (With sudden 
feverish decision) I cannot go avv^ay like this. 

NATALIA (as if to herself). What have I 
done? (After a pause, recovering) I'm glad 
you told me all that, because it makes it 
clear that it was nothing in me personally 
which repelled you, only my position . . . 
I'm glad — it makes the parting easier. 
(A pause. He rises.) 

BELIAEV. It was madness just now, 
when I said 'I can't go', of course I must 
go . . . But you can have no idea of what 
is going on in my breast ... I am seeing 
you for the first time, hearing your voice 
for the first time . . . (He sits next to her; 
they look into each other's eyes) Yes, I must 
go . . . if I don't, I — I can't answer for 
what might happen. 

NATALIA. Yes, you must go . . . But 
can it be, that in spite of the way I've 
behaved, you still think of me ... in 
such a way? If I'd known, I would have 
died rather than confess to you what I 
did 

BELIAEV. This time yesterday I myself 
could never have imagined — it was only 
just now, when suddenly 

NATALIA. Yes? (Her eyes shining with 
happiness) Suddenly 

BELIAEV. It was as if a hand were laid 
gently on my heart, a warm hand that 
pressed and pressed, until there was a 
burning in me that would scorch up my 
whole being . . . 

NATALIA (her eyes closed) . We have no 
right to forget that tomorrow you are 
leaving. That we are speaking to each 
other for the last time. 

BELIAEV. Yes, the last time. And 
whatever happens, one memory will stay 
with me forever, how Natalia Petrovna 
came to love me . . . 

NATALIA. But you told me just now 



lU 



IVAN TURGENEV 



that you were still afraid of me . , . (She 
looks into his eyes; her smile Jades ^ she 
shudders^ and puts her hand to her eyes) But 
what am I saying . . . (Recovering, trying to 
he practical) Alexei Nikolaich, listen . . . 
I've no more strength to fight, and I count 
on your help. (Rapidly, convincing herself) 
It is for the best that all should end 
quickly, now; we have at least grown in 
this minute to know each other. Give me 
your hand, and good-by. 
(He takes her hand.) 

BELiAEV. I am parting from you, 
Natalia Petrovna, and my heart is so full 
that I have not a word to say. May Heaven 
give you — ^give you . . . 
(He breaks oJ[, overcome, and presses her hand 
to his lips. ) 

(In a stijled whisper.) Good-by 

(Rakitin appears from the left, and sees them.) 

NATALIA. If you stay, my love . . . then 
Heaven must be our judge . . . 

BELIAEV. Natalia . . . 

RAKITIN. Natalia Petrovna. 
(The others start, and look round at him. 
Beliaev bows, intensely embarrassed, and 
hurries awkwardly out to the right.) 

RAKITIN. I'm sorry. I was walking 
past, and heard your voices. 

NATALIA (collecting herself) . This seems 
the day for explanations, does it not? . . . 
Who sent you to look for me ? 

RAKITIN. Your husband. 

NATALIA (after a pause, rising). Shall 
we go back to the schoolroom ? 
(She makes to go past him.) 

RAKITIN (anxiously). May I ask — what 
decision you came to 

NATALIA. Decision? (Affecting surprise) 
I don't understand you. 
(A pause. She faces his look.) 

RAKITIN. You don't? Then I under- 
stand everything. 

NATALIA. Oh, Rakitin, there you go 
again, hinting and hinting, really you are 
provoking! He and I thrashed the whole 
silly matter out, and anything you've 
ever discussed with me, is dead and for- 
gotten. Puerile nonsense. Do you hear? 

RAKITIN. But I haven't said a word, 
Natalia Petrovna. Except that I understand 
everything. How annoyed you must be 
with yourself. 

NATALIA. What for? 



RAKITIN. For your frankness to me this 
morning. 

(She tries to turn away, hesitates, then looks 
at him.) 

NATALIA (uncertainly). Michel . . . you 
haven't yet spoken to him? 

RAKITIN. Your husband? 

NATALIA (in an outburst, sitting on the 
seat). Please don't go on saying 'your 
husband', if his name's Arkady, then call 
him Arkady! 

RAKITIN. I haven't yet had time to 
prepare my speech to him. 

NATALIA. Oh, what a wretched business 
— it makes me positively ashamed that 
you should have to intrigue 

RAKITIN (coldly) . Please don't lose any 
sleep over that ... A pity, though, that 
the young gentleman should turn out 
such a novice. 

NATALIA . Novice ? 

RAKITIN. Taking to his heels like that; 
I've never seen a man quite so bursting 
with guilt. Give him time, though, and 
he'll soon pick up the rudiments . . . 
Shall we go? 

(Yslaev appears from the l^Jt, followed by the 
Doctor.) 

YSLAEV. You saw him go down this 
path, did you say ? 

THE DOCTOR. I Certainly thought I 

did 

(Natalia draws back. Yslaev sees Rakitin.) 

YSLAEV. Ah, you were right, my dear 
fellow — (seeing Natalia). Oh . . . (After 
a pause, with forced conviviality) You're not 
still on this morning's talk, are you? 

NATALIA. More or less, yes . . . 

YSLAEV. It must be of world-shaking 
importance 

NATALIA. Oh, it is, cataclysmic ! 

YSLAEV (after a pause). Tea's ready in 
the schoolroom. Shall we go across? 

NATALIA (rising, briskly, and taking his 
arm) . What a good idea . . . 

YSLAEV (looking round). You know, 
Doctor, I was just looking at that school- 
room ; when our Kolia grows up — to the 
credit of both his parents, one hopes — 
we've only got to set up a partition, and 
we'll have two gardeners' bedrooms — 
what d'you say? 

THE DOCTOR. An excellent idea, first- 
rate 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



^55 



(Yslaev crosses, Natalia on his arm; he has 
not looked once at Rakitin. He turns round.) 

YSLAEV. Well, gentlemen? A cup of 
tea? 
(He and Natalia go out to the left.) 

THE DOCTOR (to Rakitin). Will you 
grant me the honor of taking your arm? 
(As they start to go) It looks as if you and I 
are fated always to bring up the rear . . . 
ha! 

RAKITIN (in a sudden burst of temper) . 
Allow me to inform you, Doctor, how 
much you get on my nerves ! 
(A pause. The Doctor, looks at him, startled, 
then recovers.) 

THE DOCTOR. If you Only knew, my 
friend, how much I get on my own. 
(They follow the others out to the left.) 

QUICK CURTAIN 

SCENE THREE 

The drawing-room, the next morning. 
Early sunlight. 

Yslaev is seated at the desk, looking through 
papers. A pause. He begins to think, puts 
down the papers, then makes an effort to work 
again. He shakes his head, rises, pulls a bell 
rope and walks to the windows. 

Matvei enters from the study, carrying a 
duster. 

MATVEI. You rang, sir? 

YSLAEV. Yes — er — send the bailiff to 
me, will you 

MATVEI. Very good, sir. (Going, then 
remembering something) Oh, excuse me, 
sir 

YSLAEV. Yes? 

MATVEI. The workmen digging at the 
dam . . . 

YSLAEV. What about them? 

MATVEI. They're waiting to know what 
they are to do now. 

YSLAEV. Oh. Tell them I shan't be a 
moment — say I've been delayed ... 

MATVEI. Very good, sir. 

YSLAEV (as Matvei bows and makes to go 
hack) . Is Monsieur Rakitin in the house ? 

MATVEI. I Just saw him in the billiard- 
room, sir. 

YSLAEV (sitting back at the desk). Ask 
him if he would be so good as to take a 
glass of wine with me in here. 



MATVEI (after a slight pause). Yes, sir. 
(He bows and goes into the ballroom, nearly 
running into Anna Semyenovna as she enters 
from the hall; she is in breakfast toilette and 
carries a cup of chocolate and a card-box. She 
is in a genuine state of agitation, but appears 
determined to let everyone know it. She looks 
at Yslaev, who does not stir. She moves across 
and deposits the card-box on the table; he 
looks up quickly, sees her and goes back to his 
papers. She sighs explosively , and sits on the 
stool; he still pays no attention to her.) 

ANNA. Arkasha . . . 

YSLAEV (turning). Oh, Mamma — I 
didn't see you . . . (Rising, crossing, and 
kissing her on the brow, mechanically) How 
are we this morning ? 

ANNA (her voice quavering) . Well, the 
Lord be thanked. 

YSLAEV (briskly). Good. 
(He returns to his papers.) 

ANNA (with a deep sigh) . As well as can 
be expected . . . Matters might be 
worse . . . 

(Seeing that he takes no notice she draws a 
deeper breath, almost a sob. He turns to her.) 

YSLAEV. Were you sighing. Mamma? 

ANNA. Arkady Sergheich Yslaev, I am 
your mother. 

YSLAEV (back to his papers) . Really, 
Mamma, that's no news to me 

ANNA. You're a great big man, 
Arkasha, grown up to Adam's estate — but 
I am the one who dangled you on my 
knee. It's a wonderful word, 'mother'. 

YSLAEV. Mamma, do please explain 
what you're hinting at 

ANNA. My dear, you know perfectly 
well. Arkasha, you married an excellent 
wife 

YSLAEV (drily). Did I? Good . . . 

ANNA. Whose conduct up till now has 
been beyond reproach 

YSLAEV. You mean that Rakitin 



ANNA (shocked). No no — God forbid 
— I don't mean that at all — no no 

YSLAEV. Do let me finish. Mamma . . . 
You mean that her relationship with 
Rakitin is not quite — as straightforward 
as it might be ? 

ANNA. Yes, I do. Arkady, has he given 
you any idea at all what those tears and 
those talks were about? 

YSLAEV. I haven't asked him. (Back to 



1^6 



IVAN TURGENEV 



his papers) And he seems in no hurry to 
satisfy my curiosity. 

ANNA. Then what d'you intend to do 
now? 

YSLAEV. Nothing. 

ANNA. Nothing? . . . Well! Of course, 
you're the master — and who am I to 
advise you, at your age; I'm only your 
mother, it's your bed, and you must lie 
on it . . . (After a pause) What I meant 
was, I should be only too pleased to clear 
the air with a little chat with them 
both 

YSLAEV (rising, perturbed). Mamma, 
you'll do nothing of the sort — I mean — I 
can't have you worried. Now d'you 
promise me, faithfully? 

ANNA. You can't say I haven't 
cautioned you; from now on I shan't lift 
a finger, I'll be like an oyster. Not another 
syllable. 
(A pause. He sits again.) 

YSLAEV. Are you driving out anywhere 
today 

ANNA. Still, I must give you one word 
of warning. True friends get scarcer 
every day, and my baby's too trusting, my 
baby judges everybody else by himself. 

YSLAEV. Your baby's more than able to 
deal with his own life. Mamma 

ANNA. Ah well, an old woman like 
me — I'm probably out of my mind any- 
way, old women go out of their minds . . . 
(Rising) Then I was brought up on rather 
different principles, but of course all 
that's old-fashioned now. You go on 
working, I shan't lift a finger . . . (At the 
steps) I'll just turn into an oyster. 
(She goes into the hall. A pause.) 

YSLAEV. When you have an open 
wound, what makes people who reall)' 
wish you well, prod into it first one 
finger, and then another? 
(He holds his head, rises, crosses and pours 
out two glasses oj^wine. Rakitin comes in from 
the ballroom; he is very much on the defensive.) 
Ah good morning, Mihail Alexandrovich 
— a glass of wine? 

RAKITIN. Thank you . . . 
(They toast each other. A pause. Yslaev sits 
on the sofa.) 

YSLAEV (smiling). Michel, haven't you 
forgotten something? 

RAKITIN. I? 



YSLAEV. Your promise? 
RAKITIN. My promise? 
YSLAEV (charging on). You remember 
— when Mother and I came in here — 
Natasha in tears — something about a 
secret — you remember? 

RAKITIN. Can I have used the word 
'secret'? (Sitting beside him) We had a 

talk, that was all 

YSLAEV. Michel, I can't bear to see you 
having to act such a shifty part. We've 
known each other since we were boys 
together — I've no talent for subterfuge, 
and you've never been anything but above- 
board with me. Will you allow me one 
question, if I give you my w^ord that I 
shan't doubt the sincerity of your 
answer? 

RAKITIN. Go on. 
YSLAEV. Do you love my wife? 
(A pause. They look at each other.) 
I must make myself absolutely clear. Do 
you love her — with the sort of affection 
which it is hard to confess to her husband ? 
RAKITIN (after a pause, quietly). Yes, 
Arkady, I do. 
(A pause.) 

YSLAEV (taking his hand). Michel, your 
frankness does credit to the man of honor 
I have always known. 
RAKITIN. Thank you. 
YSLAEV. But the immediate problem is 
— what are w^e to do? (Walking up and 
down) I know Natasha, the range of her 
qualities — but 1 know the range of my 
own too, and I can't compete with you 

there, Michel 

RAKITIN. My dear friend 

YSLAEV. No no, I'm not in your class. 
You're brainier in every way, and 
immeasurably better company : there's no 
getting away from it, I'm a dull stick. 1 
think Natasha's fond of me, but she's got 
eyes in her head — she was bound to be 
taken with you, I always appreciated that. 
. . . But I've always trusted you both, and 
so long as — er — nothing definite happened 
— oh, I wish 1 had your gift of the gab . . . 
But after us coming upon you yesterday — 
what are we to do? I'm a simple sort of 
fellow, but I've enough horse sense to 
realize that nobody should have the 
power to ruin other people's lives, and 
that there are times when to insist on 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



^■S7 



one's rights, would be wicked. And I'm 
not saying that because I've read it 
somewhere — I've got it out of my 
conscience ; freedom — every single soul 
should be free, that's always been my 
idea. Only this does need thinking over. 

RAKITIN. I've already thought it over. 

YSLAEV. You have? 

RAKITIN. I'm leaving. 

YSLAEV. Leaving? (After a pause) You 
think you should? For good, you mean? 

RAKITIN. For good. 

YSLAEV. That's — a big step to take, 
Michel . . . Perhaps you're right. There's 
no doubt that you — my very good friend 
— have become a menace to me. And 
when I said that just now about freedom, 
perhaps I was forgetting my own feelings, 
if she — you see, for me to be without 
Natasha, would be like being without . . . 
without . . . And then again, if your 
going away were to cure this unrest of 
hers — I haven't been imagining all that, 
have I? 

RAKITIN (bitterly). No, you haven't 
indeed . . . 
(Matvei enters from the hall.) 

MATVEi. Excuse me, sir, the bailiff is 
here. 

YSLAEV. I shan't be a moment. (As 
Matvei hows and goes hack) Michel, we'll 
miss you sorely, of course — you wouldn't 
be away long? That would be carrying 
things too far 

RAKITIN. I don't know — quite a time, 
I think 

YSLAEV. Now you're not going to turn 
me into Othello, are you? . . . Upon my 
soul, I don't think there can have ever 
been such a conversation between two 
friends, since the world began! (Tutting 
out his hand) We can't part like this 

RAKITIN (taking his hand). Will you 
let me know when I may come back? 

YSLAEV. But which of our neighbors is 
going to take your place in our hearts? 
Poor old Bolshintsov? 

RAKITIN (lightly). There's — there's 
the new tutor, of course, 

YSLAEV. The new tutor? Oh, a nice 
boy, but one can't mention him in the 
same breath with you. 



RAKITIN (sardonically). Oh, d'you 
think so ? 
(A knock at the ballroom door.) 

YSLAEV (calling) . Just a minute ! (To 
Kakitin, hurriedly) We take it as settled, 
then, my dear friend, that you're going 
av/ay — ^just for a time — no hurry, you 
know, no hurry . . . Well, you've taken a 
weight off my mind . . . (Moved) My dear 
boy, God bless you . . . 
(He embraces Rakitin impetuously, on both 
cheeks.) 

YSLAEV (calling) . Come in ! 
(Beliaev enters from the ballroom. He looks 
smarter; his customary shyness can hardly hide 
glimpses oj an excited buoyancy. He carries 
papers.) 
Ah, it's you 

BELIAEV. I'm sorry, sir, I've made up 
Kolia's report, I hope I'm not inter- 
rupting 

YSLAEV. Not at all . . . Well, gentle- 
men, the devil finds work for idle hands, 
et cetera, I haven't looked at the dam this 
morning, this will never do. (Taking his 
papers under his arm) We shall meet again 
— (calling) — ready, Matvei! Matvei! All 
right ... 

(He goes out into the hall. Beliaev crosses to 
desk and arrays his papers.) 

BELIAEV. How are you today, Mihail 
Alexandrovich ? 

RAKITIN. Surely that's a new coat you 
have on ? And a buttonhole ? . . . 

BELIAEV (blushing, and starting to pluck 
it out) . Oh — if it's too much 

RAKITIN. But why, it's charming! . . . 
(After a pause) In case you want any 
messages run, I'm going into the town 
tomorrow, en route for Moscow. 

(turning). Moscow? To- 



BELIAEV 

morrow ? 

RAKITIN. 

cropped up 

BELIAEV. 
RAKITIN. 
BELIAEV. 



A matter of business has 



Will you be away long? 
Possibly quite a time. 
May I ask — does Natalia 
Petrovna know^? 

RAKITIN. No, she doesn't. Why do you 
ask? 

BELIAEV (somewhat embarrassed) . No 
particular reason. 

RAKITIN. I don't see anybody else in 
the room? 



iS^ 



IVAN TURGENEV 



BELIAEV (turning round to himj . What? 
— no, there isn't — why 

RAKiTiN. I thought there must be, for 
us to be acting such a farce. (As Beliaev 
rises) You mean to say you can't guess why 
I'm going away? 

BELIAEV (on the defensive). No, I can't. 

RAKITIN. Oh . . . well, I'll believe 
you . . . Just before you came in then, 
Arkady Sergheich and I had rather an 
important talk, man to man, as a result of 
which I have decided to take my de- 
parture : the reason being that he fancied 
me to be in love with his wife. 

BELIAEV (after a pause, stiffly) . Indeed.. . 

RAKITIN. Now what would you do in 
my place? (After a pause) His suspicions 
were totally unfounded, of course, but it 
didn't prevent him being tormented by 
them, and I felt that for a friend's peace 
of mind, an honorable man must be 
prepared to sacrifice his own — his own 
happiness. That is why I am going away. 
(With meaning) If you were in my place 
. . . you'd do the same, wouldn't you? 
You'd go away? 

BELIAEV (after a pause). I suppose I 
would, yes . . . 

RAKITIN. I'm delighted to hear it. Of 
course, there's a funny side to my de- 
camping — it implies that I regard myself 
as a mienace. But I feel that a woman's 
good name . . . Besides, haven't you 
known women, innocent of heart and 
pure as snow — real children in spite of 
their intelligence — who by very reason 
of that lack of guile, were the more apt to 
yield to a sudden infatuation? . . . (Sud- 
denly) After all that, do you still look 
upon love as the greatest blessing on 
earth ? 

BELIAEV (with a non-committal laugh) . 
Not having yet fallen a victim, I'm not in 
a position to say . . . but I've always 
understood that to love a woman, and be 
loved in return, is the — er — the nearest 
a man can reach to perfect happiness. 

RAKITIN. Long may you be soothed by 
such pleasant lullabies ! . . . Shall I tell 
you what I think? 

BELIAEV. Do. 

RAKITIN, Just this. Once you sur- 
render to it, all love — spumed or 
returned — becomes a calamity. Mark my 



words, my friend . . . the day will come 
for you to know just how those flower- 
like hands can torture, with what ex- 
quisite care they can tear your heart to 
shreds; the day will come for you to 
discover what a world of hate can smoul- 
der underneath the most ardent passion. 
When you find yourself longing for peace 
of mind as a sick man pines for health — 
for any insipid everyday peace — think of 
me; when you stand shackled to a 
woman's apron-string, and watch your- 
self envying, from the bottom of an 
agonized heart, every carefree stranger on 
the highway, while the shame of your 
own slavery seeps into your vitals — the 
slavery of paying the highest price for the 
most miserable returns . . . think of me. 
(A pause. Beliaev watches him, fascinated.) 
(Collecting himself.) I mean, think of what 
I've just said — I w^as . . . philosophizing. 

BELIAEV (soberly) . With no motive ? 

RAKITIN (drily). Exactly ... So you 
don't want anything in the town? 

BELIAEV. Nothing, thank you. (Rising) 
May I say how sorry I am you are going? 
(Natalia is seen walking in the garden from 
the right, and stands in the French windows; 
she is followed by Vera, who looks pale and 
woebegone.) 

RAKITIN (without seeing them) May I say, 
quite sincerely, how^ glad I am to have 
made your acquaintance? 
(They shake hands. Natalia watches them.) 

NATALIA (too lively). Well, gentlemen 
what has your program been this morning ? 

RAKITIN (starting). Oh, good day — 
nothing very exciting so far 

NATALIA (coming in, followed by Vera, as 
Beliaev bows, embarrassed) . Vera and I have 
been in the garden for hours — it's quite 
heavenly out of doors today. I love the 
smell of lime-trees, don't you? (Sitting) 
We walked under them for ages, listening 
to the bees humming, it was perfect. 

BELIAEV. No. (Lamely) I wasn't 

RAKITIN (jauntily, to Natalia) . So today 
it's your turn to pay tribute to the beauties 
of Nature ? (After an awkward pause) As a 
matter of fact, Alexei Nikolaich here 
couldn't risk the garden this morning, 
as he's sporting a new coat, hadn't you 
noticed? 

BELIAEV (stung). You mean that as it 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



1^9 



must be the only one I have, I couldn't 
have risked spoiling it ? 

RAKITIN (confused). Of course not. I 
vv^as joking. 

(An awkward pause. Vera sits and takes up 
some sewing. J 

(Nonchalantly.) Oh, Natalia Petrovna — I 
knew there was something — it nearly 
slipped my mind. I'm leaving today. 

NATALIA (staring at him). Leaving? 

RAKITIN. I'm going to Moscow, on 
business. 

NATALIA (after a pause). Well, hurry 
back, won't you . . . (To Beliaev, suddenly) 
Alexei Nikolaich, were those your 
drawings Kolia was showing me ? 

BELIAEV (rising). Oh — they're nothing 
much . . . 

NATALIA. Nothing much, but they're 
charming ! You have a distinct flair . . . 

RAKITIN (as Beliaev bows). I observe 
that every day you discover new virtues 
in Monsieur Beliaev. 

NATALIA. Do I? (Coldly) I'm so 
glad . . . 

RAKITIN (who has for the last few moments 
been on the rack). Well, I must prepare 
for my journey — (going) — au revoir for 
the present 

NATALIA (calling after him). You'll 
come and say good-by, won't you — it 
won't slip your mind? 

RAKITIN. No. It won't slip my mind. 

BELIAEV (suddenly J as Rakitin bows) . 
Mihail Alexandrovich, may I come and 
have a word with you? 

RAKITIN. Certainly — by all means 

(He goes out into the ballroom. Beliaev bows 
awkwardly and follows him.) 

NATALIA. Vera, dont be like this with 
me . . . (As Vera does not respond in any 
wajy rising impetuously^ S^^^S ^^ ^^^' ^"'^ 
kneeling^ entreating^ as Vera covers her face 
with her hands) No, Verochka — it's all my 
fault 

VERA (through her sobs). Don't kneel 
to me — I can't bear you to kneel to 
mfe 

NATALIA. I shall kneel to you until you 
say I'm forgiven . . . My dear, I know 
how hard it is for you, but is it any easier 
for me? The difference between us is that 
you've done nothing wrong to me, while 



VERA (in a hard voice) . There's another 
difference, Natalia Petrovna, that you 
haven't noticed. Today I find you gentle, 
and kind 

NATALIA. And do you know why? 
Because I realize how wicked I've 
been 

VERA (suddenly). You are gentle and 
kind today because you know that you 
are loved. 
(A pause.) 

NATALIA (sombrely) . Will you believe 
me, when I tell you that you and I are as 
unfortunate as each other? 

VERA. He loves you! 

NATALIA. Vera, it's time we came back 
to reality. Do remember the position I'm 
in — the position we're both in. . . . 
When you think that our secret — entirely 
my fault, I know — that our secret is 
already known in this house by two men 
— Vera, instead of mortifying each other, 
shouldn't we be trying to rescue our- 
selves from an impossible situation ? Have 
you forgotten who I am, my position in 
this house? . . . But you're not even 
listening to me. 

VERA (looking before her^ tonelessly) . He 
loves you . . . 

NATALIA. Vera, he'll be going away. . . 

VERA (in an outburst) . Leave me alone ! 
(Natalia looks at her, undecided what to do.) 

YSLAEv's VOICE (calling, in the study). 
Natasha, are you in the drawing-room? 

NATALIA (calling) . Yes ? Did you w^ant 
me? 

YSLAEv's VOICE (calling). I've got 
something to show you — the new plans of 
the dam, my dear — quick! 

NATALIA. Coming 

(She goes into the study.) 

VERA. He loves her. And I have to 
remain in her house . . . I can't bear it . . . 
(She puts her hand to her eyes. The ballroom 
door opens and the Doctor^ s head appears 
slowly. He looks round cautiously, and steals 
across the room to Vera, who does not see him. 
He stands with his arms folded, grinning 
mischievously from ear to ear.) 

THE DOCTOR (suddenly) . Boo ! 

VERA (starting). Oh . . . Oh, Doctor, 
it's you . . . 

THE DOCTOR. What's the complaint 



i6o 



IVAN TURGENEV 



this morning? Delirium tremens, gout or 
St. Vitus 's Dance? 

VERA. I'm all right, really, thank 
you . . . 

THE DOCTOR. Your pulse, young lady, 
stand and deliver . . . (Feeling her wrist) 
Hmm . . . Vivace, very vivace, one might 
say galloping . . . Now^ take my advice, 
as a professional man 

VERA (looking at him, suddenly resolute). 
Ignaty lllyich, that gentleman, our neigh- 
bor . . . what vv^as his name 

THE DOCTOR. Bolshintsov? Yes? 

VERA. Is he really a nice man ? 

THE DOCTOR. A nice man! Young lady, 
there's only one w^ord for my old Bolly — 
'paragon'. 

VERA. Has he a temper? 

THE DOCTOR. A temper? My dear, I 
can only tell you — he's not a man, he's a 
mountain of dough; you just dump him 
on to the kitchen table, roll up your 
sleeves, and . . . (making graphic gestures 
oj kneading a pliable mass) 

VERA. You can ansv^^er for him? 

THE DOCTOR. As I w^ould for myself, 
hand on heart . . . 

VERA (after a pause). Then will you 
say . . . that I am willing to marry him. 

THE DOCTOR. Willing to . . . (With 
incredulous amazement) No ! (Springing up) 
No!! 

VERA, but only if it's as soon as ever 
possible, do you understand? 

THE DOCTOR. But tomorrow, if you 
like ! Bravo, Vera Alexandrovna, bravo ! 
(Blowing ecstatic kisses to her) There* s spirit 
for you . . . He's waiting at the lodge 
gates — he'll have a fit — what a whirligig 
— have you anj idea. Vera Alexandrovna, 
how much he worships you? 

VERA (brusquely). We'll take that for 
granted, Doctor, shall we 

THE DOCTOR. All right, my sugar 
plum, mum's the word — I'll take the 
short cut — on the wings o' the wind, I 
fly. Au revoir — bonne chance — enchante ! 
(He kisses her hand tempestuously, and races 
out into the hall.) 

VERA. Anything in the world rather 
than stay here and watch her with him. 
Because she is happy, however much she 
may pretend to be wretched — the way 



she tried to comfort me — (rising) I 
can't . . . bear it . . . 

(Beliaev comes in from the ballroom, and 
nearly runs into her.) 

BELIAEV (quietly). Vera. 
(She starts, and looks up at him. A pause.) 

VERA. Yes? 

BELIAEV. I'm glad you're by yourself. 
I've come to say good-by. 

VERA. To say . . . good-by? 

BELIAEV (as she sits) . I've just had a talk 
in there with Monsieur Rakitin, a serious 
talk — I can't give you any idea of the 
sting in his voice . . . He was right about 
my new coat, too — I deserved every word. 
Not only have I disturbed your peace of 
mind — I still don't know quite how — and 
Natalia Petrovna's ... I've been the 
cause of old friendship breaking up . . . 
anyway, turning the heads of rich women 
and young girls is not my style. (Sitting 
next to her) When I've gone, everything 
will simmer down back to normal, you'll 
see — you'll forget me and wonder how 
on earth it ever came about 

VERA. Please don't break your heart 
over me. I shan't be staying here long 
myself. 

BELIAEV. You won't? How d'you 
mean ? 

VERA. That's my secret. 

BELIAEV (rising). But that's what I 
mean, how can I help leaving this house, 
when I seem to have started a sort of 
fever that makes everybody want to 
disappear one after the other? Anyway, I 
feel acutely uncomfortable here — I keep 
thinking everybody's looking at me; I 
don't mind telling you. Vera Alexan- 
drovna, I'm counting the minutes till I'm 
up on that dog-cart, bowling along the 
high road . . . It's a strange feeling, when 
your heart aches intolerably, and yet your 
head is as gay and light as if you were a 
sailor embarking on a long voyage beyond 
the seas. You know too well the perils 
ahead, you're sad at leaving your friends, 
and yet the waves call so joyously — the 
wind blows so fresh — that the blood 
starts dancing like mad through your 
veins. Yes, I must be off. Back to Moscow 
— all my old friends — I'll get straight to 
work 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



i6i 



VERA. You love her — and yet you're 
leaving 

BELIAEV. Can't you see, that all that's 
over and done w^ith? It flared up and it 
w^ent out, like a spark . . . Let's part 
friends, for Heaven's sake, shall vs^e? . . . 
(After a pause, awkwardly) I shall never 
forget you, Vera — believe me, I've grown 
very fond of you . . . (Embarrassed, taking 
a paper from his pocket) Would you — 
w^ould you be so kind as to give this note 
for me, to Natalia Petrovna? 

VERA. A note? 

BELIAEV. I — I don't feel able to say 
good-by to her. 

VERA (taking the note). But are you 
leaving straight away? 

BELIAEV. This minute. I'm walking as 
far as Petroskoye, and waiting there for 
Monsieur Rakitin. You see, everything's 
in hand . . . And when you give that, 
would you just say — no, what's the 
point . . . (Listening) Somebody's coming 
— ^good-by . . . 

(He hurries towards the hall, turns, looks 
towards the study, hesitates, and runs out into 
the hall. Natalia enters from the study, and 
looks at Vera.) 

NATALIA. I heard his voice . . . (Seeing 
her expression) What's the matter? 
(Vera hands her the note; Natalia looks from 
it to her.) 
Vera, you're frightening me . . . 

VERA. Read it. 
(Natalia opens the note, and sinks to a chair. 
A pause. She stares before her.) 
Natalia Petrovna . . . 

NATALIA. But he said good-by to you. 
He was able to say good-by to you . . . 

VERA. Only because he doesn't love 
me. 

NATALIA. But he can't go like this 

(rising abruptly) he has no right — w^ho 
gave him the idea of this ridiculous gesture 
— it's too slighting — how does he know 
that I wouldn't have had the courage . . . 
(Sinking down again) What am I to do — 
(in a cry) — what am I . . . 

VERA (walking slowly to the steps). Not 
a minute ago, you said yourself he would 
have to go . . . remember? 

NATALIA. Well, he is going . . . and 
now you're glad. Because it makes us 
equal . . . (Her voice breaks in a sob) 



VERA (turning). Natalia Petrovna, you 
said to me just now 

NATALIA (turning from her, almost in 
aversion) . I don't want to hear . . . 

VERA (inflexibly). You said, 'Instead of 
mortifying each other, shouldn't we be 
saving ourselves?' We're saved now. 
(She goes out into the hall. Natalia recovers.) 

NATALIA. She was speaking the truth 
. . . we're saved. It's all over ... all put 
beautifully to rights . . , 
(Yslaev enters from the study with papers. 
Natalia rises abruptly and goes to the French 
windows. He crosses to the desk, then sees her.) 

YSLAEV (calling). Natasha! 
(Natalia does not answer. He goes up to her.) 
(Gently.) It's me, Natasha . . . 
(She turns; he takes her hand; she attempts to 
smile at him.) 
You're so pale, my dear. It worries me. 

NATALIA. It's nothing, Arkady, really — 

YSLAEV. Won't you lie down, my 
darling? Just to please me? 

NATALIA. Very well . . . 
(She takes a step and sways. He catches her.) 

YSLAEV. There, you see? (As she leans 
on him) Shall I take you upstairs ? 

NATALIA (trying to laugh). No, really, 

Arkady, I'm not as bad as all that ! I just 

want some fresh air — ^just for a minute . . . 

(She walks into the garden. Rakitin enters, 

from the ballroom.) 

YSLAEV. Michei, what on earth pos- 
sessed you to do it, when I'd begged you 
to wait — she was so upset when I came 
in here 

RAKITIN. To do what? 

YSLAEV. To tell her you're leaving like 
that! (A pause.) 

RAKITIN. You think that's what's upset 
her? 

YSLAEV (as Natalia turns, and comes into 
the room again). Are you going up now, 
my dear? 

NATALIA. Yes. (She crosses slowly towards 
the hall. They watch her) 

RAKITIN. Good-by, Natalia Petrovna. 
(She stands, without turning round, then 
begins to go again.) 

YSLAEV. Natasha . . . (as she stops) . . . 
may one of his old friends remind you 
that here is one of the best of men ? 
(Natalia turns round, slowly; she looks from 
one to the other, as if she were dazed.) 



l62 



IVAN TURGENEV 



NATALIA. Yes — he's the salt of the 
earth! (With sudden vehemence) You're 
both the salt of the earth . . . And yet . . . 
(She puts her hand to her eyes and stumbles 
out into the hall. Yslaev walks to the French 
windows.) 

RAKiTiN (to himself) . After four years 
of platonic devotion, what a touching 
farewell. Ah bien — (viciously) — it was 
high time to cut short a morbid and 
consumptive relationship . . . (As Yslaev 
comes hack to him) Good-by, Arkady. 
(Yslaev looks at him; there are tears in his 
eyes.) 

YSLAEV. It's not easy. You see, I didn't 
expect it. Like a storm on a very fine 
day . . . Well, what we reap, we have 
sown — however, thank you for what 
you're doing. You are my friend. 

RAKITIN (in a frantic undertone) . This 
is too much . . . (Recovering) Good-by. 
(He is about to hurry out into the hall when he 
collides with the Doctor coming in.) 

THE DOCTOR. What's happened? 
Somebody just said Natalia Petrovna's 
fainted 

YSLAEV. Nothing to worry about 
Doctor, the heat, more likely than not 

THE DOCTOR. No doubt, no doubt . . 
(To Rakitin) I hear you're going away? 

RAKITIN (patiently) . Yes, on business 

THE DOCTOR (slyly) . Ah, business . . 
fancy that now . . . 

(Anna Semyenovna, Lizaveta Bogdanovna 
Kolia and ShaaJ pour in one ajter the other 
from the ballroom.) 

ANNA. What is it — what's happened — 
my poor dear Natasha — for Heaven's 
sake 

KOLIA. Where's Mamma? Why has 
she fainted? What makes a person faint? 
What's the matter with her? 

YSLAEV, Nothing at all is the matter 

with her 

(All 
at 
once.) 



ANNA. But good gracious— 
LIZAVETA. We were just told— 
SHAAF. Dies moment hier— 
YSLAEV (loudy peremptory) . Quiet, all 
of you! . , . I've just seen Natalia Pe- 
trovna, and I repeat, there is nothing at 
all the matter with her — what's more to 
the point, is what's the matter with all of 
you? 

ANNA. Really, Arkasha, there's no 



need to bite all our heads off just because 
we're a little concerned — pardonably, I 
think 

RAKITIN. Well, I must be off. 

ANNA. Oh — are you going away? 

RAKITIN (resigned to still more ex- 
planations) . Yes, I'm going away. 

ANNA (sweeping him from head to footy 
with an all-embracing all-understanding look) . 
Ah. . . 

(She motions Lizaveta and Shaaf to the card- 
table and begins to arrange a game.) 

KOLIA. Papa, why has my new tutor 
gone? 

YSLAEV (as Rakitin comes down to them) . 
Gone ? Beliaev ? Where to ? 

KOLIA. I don't know. He just shook 
my hand, put his cap on and went — and 
it's time for my lesson, the best lesson of 
all 

YSLAEV. I expect you misunderstood, 
he'll be back in five minutes 

RAKITIN (aside, to Yslaev). I'm afraid 
Kolia didn't misunderstand, Arkady. He 
won't be coming back. 
(The others are making surreptitious attempts 
to overhear.) 

YSLAEV. Now what does this mean? 

RAKITIN. He's going away too. To 
Moscow. 

YSLAEV. Is everybody in this house 
going stark staring mad? 

RAKITIN. Between ourselves, Arkady, 
little Verochka's fallen in love with him. 

YSLAEV. With the tutor? (Whistling) 
Whew . . . 

RAKITIN. And like an honorable man, 
he has decided it would be only tactful to 
take his departure. (As Yslaev sits, with a 
gesture of bewilderment) So now you under- 
stand 

YSLAEV. I don't understand anything at 
all, and my head's going round like a top. 
Everybody muttering what honorable 
men they are, and scurrying off north 
south east and west, like a lot of 
partridges ! 

ANNA (coming to them). Now what is 
all this — something about a tutor, did I 
hear 

YSLAEV (holding his head, in a shout). 
Nothing, Mamma, nothing, nothing! 

KOLIA. But, Papa 

YSLAEV. Monsieur Shaaf 



A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY 



163 



SHAAF (bustling forward y with alacrity). 
Mein Herr ! 

YSLAEV. Would you kindly give Kolia 
his German lesson now 

KOLIA (bursting into tears). No, I want 
the other tutor ! I want the other tutor — 
(as Shaaf pilots him, screaming and kicking, 
into the ballroom) — I w^ant the other 
tutor . . . 
(His voice dies away. A pause.) 

YSLAEV (to Rakitin). Michel, I'll come 
part of the way with you. I'll have 
Favorite saddled, and meet you at the 
dam. And Mamma, will you do something 
for me? 

ANNA. My dear, any mortal thing to 
help 

YSLAEV. Keep away from Natasha, will 
you? And you too. Doctor, she's not at 
all well . . . (Going into the study, calling) 
Matvei ! Matvei ! 

(Anna sits, bristling with wounded dignity. 
like an old hen. Lizaveta, her eyes round with 
amazement, takes up her stand behind her, 
like a shadow.) 

THE DOCTOR (to Rakitin, an uncontrolla- 
ble twinkle in his eye). Mihail Alexandro- 
vich, may I have the honor of driving you 
as far as the main road ? 

RAKITIN. Driving me? Have you got a 
horse ? 

THE DOCTOR (beaming from ear to ear). 
Three horses, my dear friend, and a 
wagonette. 

ANNA. What is all this 

RAKITIN (bowing). Anna Semyenovna. 

ANNA (majestic, without rising) . Good- 
by, Mihail Alexandrovich. (Sepulchrally) 



I wish you as pleasant a journey as can be 
expected. 

RAKITIN. Thank you . . . Lizaveta 
Bogdanovna. 

(He bows; Lizaveta drops a frightened 
curtsey. He hurries out abruptly into the hall.) 

THE DOCTOR (kissing Anna's hand). Au 
revoir, honored lady 

ANNA. Don't tell me you're going to 
Moscow too? 

THE DOCTOR. No no, just as far as my 
own humble abode. My patients, you 
know, my patients ... (To Lizaveta) 
Dear lady . . . 

LIZAVETA (her eyes fluttering) . Doctor. . 

THE DOCTOR. Au revoir, but not 
good-by. 

(He kisses her hand, peers to see that Anna is 
not looking, winks broadly at her, and hurries 
out into the hall.) 

ANNA (as Lizaveta sits opposite her, with 
knitting). Well, Lizaveta Bogdanovna .. . 
and what do you make of all this? 

LIZAVETA. Anna Semyenovna, I am at 
a loss. 

ANNA. Did you hear what / heard? 
That the tutor boy is leaving too? 

LIZAVETA. No! 

ANNA. But what is the world coming 
to? Ah well . . . 

LIZAVETA (her eyes modestly downcast). 
Anna Semyenovna. 

ANNA. Yes, dear? 

LIZAVETA. / may not be staying here 
much longer either . . . 
(Anna sits back, staring at her in amazement.) 

QUICK CURTAIN 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK's 



My Three Angels 



Based on La Cuisine des Anges by Albert Husson 



First produced by Saint-Subber, Rita Allen, and Archie Thomson at the Morosco 
Theatre, New York, on March 1 1, 19^3, with the following cast: 

FELIX DUCOTEL Will Kuluva JULES Jerome Cowan 

EMILIE DUCOTEL Carmen Mathews Alfred Darren McGavin 

MARIE LOUISE DUCOTEL Joan Chandler henri trochard Henry Daniell 

mme. parole Nan McFarland paul Robert Carroll 

JOSEPH Walter Slezak lieutenant Eric Fleming 

ADOLPHE 



Directed by Jose Ferrer 

Setting designed by Boris Aronson 

Costumes by Lucinda Ballard 



The action of the play takes place in the family Ducotel's living room back of a 
general store in Cayenne, French Guiana, December, 1910. 



© 19^2, 19^3, by Sam and Bella Spewack 
Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc. 

CAUTION : Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that My Three Angels, being fully pro- 
tected under the copyright laws of the United States, the British Empire including the Dominion of 
Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union, is subject to royalty. All rights, including profession- 
al, amateur, motion-picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, and 
the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid on the 
question of readings, permission for which must be obtained in writing from the authors. All inquiries 
should be addressed to the authors in care of Random House, Inc. , 45^7 Madison Avenue, New York 2 2 , N.Y. 
The amateur acting rights of Mj Three Angels are controlled exclusively by the Dramatists Play 
Service, Inc., 14 East 38th Street, New York 16, N.Y., without whose permission in writing no amateur 

performance of it may be made. 



MY THREE ANGELS 



i6^ 



ACT ONE 



The single set is a living room back of a 
general store in Cayenne^ in Trench Guiana. 
The climate is hot and humid. The room 
reflects the tropics, hut the furniture has 
obviously been imported from France and 
bespeaks another world. An arch in the center 
oj the back wall, hung with bamboo curtains, 
opens into a corridor that leads into the shop. 
A bell rings when someone enters the shop and 
this can be heard in the living room. A double 
door in the upstage left wall leads to the 
family kitchen, and a door downstage of this 
leads to other rooms in the house. 

Facing the audience upstage, left and right 
of the center arch, are two doors reached by 
three steps leading to two guest rooms, which 
figure prominently in the action. A bamboo 
gate, stage right, leads to the garden. A 
ladder is featured, to the right of the center 
arch. It reaches to an opening in the roof. 

The rest of the ceiling is beamed and 
thatched. 

In the center of the room is an oval dining 
table with three chairs, right, left and above 
the table. At right and left are armchairs. 
A bureau that is used for china, linen, books, 
papers and general catch-all is left of the 
center arch. Opposite the bureau hangs a hat 
rack and mirror. To the left of the garden gate 
is a commode stacked with unopened boxes and 
baskets. A similar stack of crates and baskets 
is heaped against the bamboo wall, right of 
the kitchen doors. An oil-lamp fixture hangs 
between the doors in the left wall, and on the 
side of the two bedroom doors hang two more 
such fixtures. A stand lamp is downstage of the 
garden gate. There are the usual pictures and 
decorations on the walls. 

The thermometer-barometer hangs on a 
pole, stage right. Across the center arch is 
draped a piece of warm-colored material in 
contrast to the bamboo and ra^a walls of the 
room. 



Time: Christmas Eve, igio. 
At Rise: Felix Ducotel is sitting at the 
table, center, working at his ledgers, desul- 
torily. He is in his late fifties, and is dressed 
for Paris rather than Cayenne. He wears a 
frock coat, boiled shirt, etc. 

Felix Ducotel is a thoroughly amiable and 



impractical soul. We hear the bell of the shop 
door, but Felix does not. After a pause, the 
bell is heard again. 

Emilie, his wife, enters from the kitchen 
after second bell, carrying a bowl of fresh green 
peas. She is patient with her husband, for she 
loves him. 

EMILIE (Seeing that he has not responded 
to the bell, crosses to entrance to shop J . I was 
sure I heard the bell, dear. 

FELIX. No. 

EMILIE. I was sure someone had come 
into the shop. 

FELIX. Not a soul. Well, one hears 
bells at Christmas. I don't mean literally. 
There are bells in the air, so to speak. 
Sleigh bells, jingle bells. One remembers 
one's childhood. Father Christmas. The 
angels. The three wise men. (Mops his 
brow) Very hot for Christmas, of course. 
(Looks at thermometer) One hundred and 
five ! 

EMILIE. Must you wear that frock 
coat? 

FELIX. My dear, 1 have a position to 
maintain — as a Frenchman, as a business 
man, as manager of a substantial establish- 
ment in . . . 

EMILIE. In a colony of convicts ! (Felix 
returns to table) Felix ! 

FELIX. What? 

EMILIE. You don't think that bell 
means another sneak thief's been here? 

FELIX. Why are you so suspicious? (He 
pinches her cheek) Always suspicious ! 

EMILIE. You ask me that here — in this 
colony of thieves ! Desperate criminals 
wandering around free as air ! (Hammering 
is heard) Three of them up there repairing 
our roof right now ! 

FELIX. My dear, they're perfectly 
honest. 

EMILIE. Honest? 

FELIX. They're not thieves ! They're 
murderers. 
(Harmonica playing is heard in the garden) 

EMILIE (stunned). They are? Those 
three — on our roof? 

FELIX. Most of them are, you know. 
At least so I've been told. They're excel- 
lent roofers, and considering the heat and 
humidity, extremely industrious. 



i66 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



EMiLiE. Felix, did that boy ever pay 
you for the harmonica? 

FELIX. What harmonica? 

EMILIE. Felix! 

FELIX. No. He's a very gifted boy. 
(Harmonica playing is louder) 

EMILIE. He's out there now. Go out 
and tell him he either pays or you take 
the harmonica. 

FELIX (firmly) . Emilie, please ! (Placing 
the bowl of peas on the right end of table) 
I'll handle this affair. 

EMILIE. How? 

FELIX. It's a matter of bookkeeping. 

EMILIE. Bookkeeping? 

FELIX. I'll put it down to overhead. 

EMILIE. what? 

FELIX. In any business enterprise, one 
must take account of local conditions. 
Here in Cayenne, we have musically 
frustrated natives. They're starved for mu- 
sic, for food, for life itself. They have no 
money. What can one do? One puts it 
down to overhead. 
(Hammering is heard.) 

EMILIE (Indicating roof). Overhead! 
Those murderers are driving me mad — 
overhead ! 

FELIX. Overhead is a technical com- 
mercial expression. 
(Hammering stops. He sighs. Bell rings.) 

EMILIE. There's someone in the shop. 

FELIX. Is there? 
(Rises and moves toward shop. Mme. Parole 
enters. She carries an umbrella and a string 
shopping bag filed with parcels.) 

MME. PAROLE. Merry Christmas! 
(Emilie rises.) 

FELIX. Merry Christmas, Mme. Parole. 

MME. PAROLE. I Only Stopped by for a 
bottle of Chartreuse — for Ernest, you 
know. 

FELIX (begins searching through boxes) . 
I'll get it. 

MME. PAROLE (places bag and umbrella 
on table). It's my yearly Christmas surprise 
for poor Ernest. He always gives me a 
box of biscuits. He eats them, of course, 
and I drink the Chartreuse. 
(Hammering begins.) 

FELIX (searching) . Let me see . . . 

MME. PAROLE (looking up). You still 
have your workmen. I must say I find 
convicts convenient. So cheap, and so 



willing. I wouldn't have any other serv- 
ants. No natives for me. Take my Louis. 
A treasure — a perfect treasure. Immacu- 
late, and what a cook ! He may be a little 
peculiar — shall we say effeminate. But 
my dear, it takes all kinds to make a 
world. He doesn't bother me. And he 
adores Ernest. 

FELIX. I don't understand it. I had a 
case of Chartreuse here — right here . . . 

MME. PAROLE (taking bundle from shop- 
ping bag). Ernest gave me your mail. 
Two ships came in this morning. 

EMILIE. Thank you. While we're wait- 
ing — Felix was just going over the 
accounts — weren't you, Felix? (Indicates 
books) 

FELIX (still searching yfnds cognac bottle) . 
Was I? Ah, yes. 

EMILIE (stifing her irritation) . And he 
thought if you could possibly . . . It's 
quite a large bill . . . 

MME. PAROLE. But, of course. You 
know how scatterbrained I am. 

EMILIE. That's why I took the liberty 
of reminding you . . . 

FELIX (going to Mme. Parole). I'm ter- 
ribly sorry, but we seem to be out of 
Chartreuse. I have some cognac. 

MME. PAROLE. Cognac will do. (Takes 
the bottle^ puts it in shopping bag) How 
much do I owe you? (Searching in the bag) 
Where's my purse? Oh! What a scatter- 
brain I am. I forgot! (Getting up, preparing 
to leave) Oh, well, it doesn't matter . . . 
charge it. 

EMILIE. Well, how soon do you think 
you'll ... 

MME. PAROLE. By the way, how's the 
shop going? Better? Ernest says that 
you're too trusting, too careless. People 
take advantage. People are such beasts! 
Well, I must take a look at my bill one of 
these days. Good-bye. (She exits into the 
shop) 

FELIX. What a scatterbrain ! 

EMILIE. As scatterbrained as a fox! 

FELIX (returning to his chair). I must 
get back to my books. 

EMILIE. Books! Credit right and left, 
nobody pays, and sneak thieves take the 
rest. It's Cherbourg all over again. Thank 
goodness, we still have a little capital left. 
How much is left, Felix? (Felix looks up) 



MY THREE ANGELS 



167 



Of the money we brought from home? 

FELIX. Oh, that capital. That's invested. 

EMILIE. Invested? 

FELIX. I forgot to tell you. There was 
a prospector through here with a very 
attractive proposition. A gold mine some- 
where in the west. You wouldn't under- 
stand these affairs. Believe me, I'm being 
practical. 

EMILIE. Then all I hope is that Marie 
Louise marries someone completely im- 
practical. 

FELIX. Marie Louise will marry for 
love, just as we did. 

EMILIE. God help her! 

FELIX. Do you regret it very much? 

EMILIE. No. 

FELIX. There you are. (Rises, moves left, 
mopping his browj We have had our ups 
and downs, but it's not too bad here. 
The heat is a little trying, but as a practical 
business man I think of all the money I 
save in coal bills. The heat is free. 
(Marie Louise enters from shop, carrying her 
hat, gloves and purse. She is tremendously 
excited. J 

MARIE LOUISE. Mama, Paul's here. 
(Going to armchair to leave hat, gloves, purse. 
Emilie turns to her) He is on the Mirabelle. 
I knew he'd come for me. I knew it! I 
didn't dare breathe it, not even to you. 
But I knew he wouldn't wait a whole year, 
I knew it! Now do you believe me? Now 
do you think it is wrong to trust? Blindly, 
completely? 

EMILIE. When you've simmered down, 
will you please tell me . . . Paul's here? 
Alone? 

MARIE LOUISE (picks up purse) . No, 
with his uncle. They're in quarantine. 
Papa, you've got to get them right out. 

EMILIE (still bewildered) . You've seen 
them? 

MARIE LOUISE. HoW COuld I? I told 

you they're in quarantine. Uncle Henri 
sent word through M. Parole for you to 
get him right off the ship. Here's his note. 
(Gives Felix the note taken from purse) 
M. Parole gave it to me. I'll give Paul my 
room, and I suppose we'll have to give his 
uncle yours. I'm going to do Paul's room 
myself. I know just how he likes it. He's 
not fussy, just particular. 



EMILIE. Felix . . . Did Henri write you 
he was coming? 

FELIX. Well, not exactly . . . 

EMILIE. Paul hasn't written jou, has 
he, Marie Louise? It seems to me he 
hasn't written in months. 

MARIE LOUISE. He wanted to surprise 
me. Paul always said letters are so banal. 
(Picks up hat and gloves) I'm going to get 
some flowers from the garden. Paul loves 
flowers. 

EMILIE. Fresh sheets would be more to 
the point. 

MARIE LOUISE. Yes. The embroidered 
ones. I won't tell Paul I embroidered 
them myself. He'll just know. Isn't it 
miraculous? Flowers in the garden for 
Christmas! Merry Christmas, Papa! Mer- 
ry Christmas, Mama ! Merry Christmas ! 
(Marie Louise exits to garden) 

EMILIE. My two children . . . One I 
gave birth to — one I married. 

FELIX. This is a terrible shock . . . You 
don't know. 

EMILIE. What don't I know? After all, 
Henri has many interests in many places. 
This shop's a bagatelle to him. He hasn't 
come down here to . . . Or has he? Felix, 
what don't I know? 

FELIX (disjointedlj) . In some of his 
letters he threatened — unless I reorgan- 
ized drastically — But how could I? With 
local conditions . . . He can afford to lose 
a little money the first year. Give a man 
a chance to get acclimated. 

EMILIE. Felix . . . 

FELIX. You'd think a man who swindled 
me out of a first-class department store 
— legally, I admit — a cousin — by mar- 
riage, I'll admit — but still a cousin — We 
grew up together as boys . . . (Reads the 
note) "I have two days to give you. I want 
to make a complete inventory and check 
your books. I shall then make the logical 
decision. Be good enough to get me off^ 
this damn ship at once." 

EMILIE. Logical decision? Felix, is he 
going to close the shop? 

FELIX. I don't know. 

EMILIE. Or get someone else? 

FELIX. I don't know. 

EMILIE (going to him, quietly) . Are your 
books in very bad shape, Felix? (She 
indicates the books on the table) 



i68 SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 

FELIX. Temporarily — only — temporar- The three convicts move to her. Joseph puts on 

ily — I really haven't checked , . . his glasses and picks up the letter. Alfred is 

EMILIE (after a pause) . We can always carrying a small cage made of a coconut shell 

go home. and twigs; it has a leather handle. As he 

FELIX. With what? And to what? At moves toward the girl^ he leaves the cage on 

my age? God help us! (Loud hammering) the table.) 

y\l\\dit's thsitl (Kememhers the convicts) Oh! JOSEPH. I wonder if this letter was 

EMILIE. That's not God coming to the poisoned, 

rescue. Just some of His wayward chil- jules. Poisoned? 

dren who'll solve all our problems by Joseph. I read somewhere poisoned 

murdering us in our beds tonight. (Em- letters were common in the days of the 

bracing him) Oh, Felix, you should have Borgias. The victim picked it up . . . 

been a poet. Pouf ! 

FELIX. What am I going to do? jules. Well, nothing's happened to 

EMILIE. Do? Your going to do as he you — yet. 

says. Go down and see the Health people Joseph. No. 

and get him off the ship. jules. Damn funny . . . There she 

FELIX, I guess so . . . was, reading away, smiling, chuckling 

(Marie Louise enters from garden with and then — out like a light. 

flowers.) JOSEPH (having glanced quickly through 

MARIE LOUISE. Papa, haven't you gone the letter). Ah! Here's the poison (^KeaJsj 

yet? Papa, they're waiting. "Darling, Paul and I are engaged." Three 

FELIX. I'm going. Thank God, come exclamation points. Engaged, in capital 

what may, I still have you, Emilie. letters. "Papa and M. Trochard arranged 

EMILIE. You still have me, Felix (Felix it just before Paul sailed with his darling 

exits into shop. Emilie goes to table and looks uncle. Darling Marie Louise, I know how 

through bundle of letters) Marie Louise, happy you'll be for us." Happy capi- 

there's a letter here for you from talized, two exclamation points. "After 

Suzanne. all, darling, a schoolgirl crush is not love, 

MARIE LOUISE (takes letter) . It's always as we all know. And let's be frank. That's 

the same silly letter. In school she was all there was between you and Paul, and 

always first with the bad news. Guess honestly I don't mind. Not a bit." Two 

who's down with the mumps. (Emilie exclamation points. 

picks up bowl of peas and letters^ starts toward (Alfred goes to left of Joseph^ staring at the 

kitchen) Guess who's going to be expelled. S^^^-) 

Guess who's pregnant. "But I do want to save Paul embarrass- 

EMILIE. Marie Louise! (Exits to kitchen) ment when he sees you. You know how 

MARIE LOUISE (suddenly). I wonder if kind" — capitalized — "how very kind he 

she's written me about Paul. (Opens letter is." Want to hear any more? 

and starts to read it) jules. No. (Drinking in all the details 

(As Marie Louise sits down to read, three of the room). 

fgures descend the ladder and stop. They wear JOSEPH (examining envelope). Suzanne 

pajamalike uniforms, with the appropriate Audibert . . . (Alfred kneels to get a closer 

numbers, straw hats and sandals. Joseph's look at the girl) Incidentally, she writes 

number is 3011. Jules' number is 68lj. the day of her engagement her complexion 

Alfred's number is 4^0^. Joseph, like Jules, is cleared up completely. Putting two and 

in his forties. He's an ex forger and ex-pro- two together . . . (Feeling letter) I should 

moter. Jules killed a faithless wife, is fairly say — ^judging from the quality of the 

well educated, introspective. Alfred, in his stationery — (^njffs it) the general tone 

twenties, is an ex-playboy who murdered for of the letter — I should say Suzanne 

money. They watch her as she reads. She Audibert is quite rich. 

smiles. They smile. She chuckles. They chuckle Alfred. She's a bitch. 

silently. She rises, startled. They react. Then, Joseph. Of course. 

suddenly, a gasp escapes her. She keels over. Alfred. That Paul must be mad! To 



MY THREE ANGELS 



169 



turn this down. (Staring at Marie Louise) 
She's beautiful! 

JOSEPH. Enough of that! In your posi- 
tion one doesn't admire a beautiful 
woman. Neither party stands to benefit. 

ALFRED. I can look, can't 1? 

JOSEPH. Get me some water instead. 
(Indicates kitchen) 

ALFRED. Right. 

(Emilie enters as Alfred moves to kitchen. She 
hacks away, frightened.) 

EMILIE. Oh! 

(Alfred exits to kitchen.) 

JULES. Don't be afraid, Madame . . . 

EMILIE (seeing Marie Louise) . Marie 
Louise ! (Goes to her) 

JULES. We were on that ladder when 
it happened. 

EMILIE. Marie Louise, speak to me. 
When what happened ? 

JULES. She fainted. 

JOSEPH. Nerves. 

JULES. Shock. 

JOSEPH. No wonder . . . Read this 
letter . . . (Gives her the letter) Here's the 
viperish paragraph. (Alfred returns with 
glass of water) Believe me, Madame, we 
sympathize with you. (Sprinkles water on 
Marie Louise) Uncle Henri's unexpected 
and unwelcome arrival. The fickle Paul! 
(Emilie returns letter to Joseph. He hands 
glass to Alfred) And she had such high 
hopes ! 

EMILIE (staring at him). Did you hear 
everything up there? (Indicates roof) 

JOSEPH. Everything. 

EMILIE. Oh ! (Marie Louise moans. Joseph 
and Alfred move to ladder) Poor darling. 

J u LES . She ' s coming around . When she 
opens her eyes, it might be a good idea if 
she sees you first. (He moves up to join other 
two) While we know a great deal about 
her, she doesn't know very much about 
us, and might be a little — shy. 

EMILIE. Darling. 

MARIE LOUISE (sitting up). Where am 
. . . What happ . . . (She sees men) Oh! 

EMILIE. Don't be afraid. 

MARIE LOUISE (getting up slowly). I'm 
not afraid. Nothing can frighten me now. 

EMILIE. Marie Louise, my poor darling 
... I know what it means to you . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. Please leave me alone. 
I don't want to talk about it. I don't want 



to talk to anybody. I don't want to see 
anybody. I just want to die. (She runs into 
her room) I just want to die. 

EMILIE. Marie Louise ! (Starts to follow 
her) 

JULES (stopping her) . I'd leave her alone 
Youth always dallies with suicide. We 
who live on know better. Alfred . . . 
( Alfred follows Marie Louise into her room.) 

EMILIE. But . . . 

JOSEPH. No danger. Everything 'sunder 
control. Alfred's looking after her. He's 
quick as a cat. 

EMILIE. She's so upset — so shocked . . . 
God knows what she might do . . . 

JOSEPH. Alfred's problem! 
(Alfred re-enters.) 

ALFRED. She's in her room. Nothing 
to v^^orry about. I checked. No poison. 
No weapons. (Goes to table , puts down 
scissors and fie) 1 removed these. Scissors 
. . . nail file ... no sedatives ... no gas 
stove, of course . . . And if she jumps, 
her window is only three feet from the 
ground. 

JOSEPH (extending his hand). Well 
done. 

ALFRED (shaking hands) . A pleasure . . . 
a real pleasure . . . (Goes to door of Marie 
Louise^ s room) 

JULES. We disapprove of death. Especi- 
ally for young and charming girls. She'll 
be all right. Time heals all wounds. We're 
authorities on the subject of time. 
(Shop hell rings.) 

EMILIE. Good Heavens. A customer. 
At a time like this. I suppose I'd better 
see . . . (Starts toward shop) . 

JOSEPH (stopping her) . A customer is 
always welcome. May I? It'll be a treat 
for me. (Exits into shop, leaving hat on 
bureau) 

EMILIE. He's not going to . . . 

JULES. Wait on the customer? Of 
course. There's nothing he likes better. 
He can sell anything to anyone — and has. 
(Emilie looks with uncertainty from the shop 
entrance to Alfred, then to Jules. There is an 
awkward pause.) 

JULES. We make you nervous, Ma- 
dame? 

EMILIE. No . . . It's just that . . . 

JULES. You've never had convicts 
working for you before? 



170 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



EMiLiE. Never. 

JULES. Our loss, Madame . . . Our 
loss . . . 

(Places chair beside table for her. Alfred 
disappears quietly into Marie Louise's room, 
unnoticed by Emilie.) 

EMILIE. You don't talk like a convict, 
somehow. 

JULES. Well, I wasn't born in a cell. 
And on the other hand, I wasn't sent 
here for biting my nails. 

EMILIE. Somehow you haven't the face 
of a . . . a . . . 

JULES. A murderer? I agree. That's 
exactly what I said when I caught a 
glimpse ofmyselfin the mirror after I'd. . . 

EMILIE (fascinated, despite herself) . After 
you'd . . . 

JULES. After I'd strangled my wife, 
Madame. 

EMILIE. Oh! 

JULES. She didn't think so, either, 
poor thing. If she'd thought I had the face 
of a fool, she would have been right. I was 
a fool, of course. When I realized it, it 
was too late. There she was stretched 
out on the carpet, her poor thin little 
neck all purple, her eyes staring — in 
astonishment, I'm sure. 

EMILIE. My God! 

JULES. Exactly what I said, Madame. 
I called out to Him, but He was busy 
elsewhere. 

EMILIE. Was she — a bad woman? Did 
she make life miserable for you? 

JULES. Never! Never in six years of 
happy mariage. It was my fault. 

EMILIE. Oh! 

JULES. I came home from a trip, one 
day — unexpectedly . 

EMILIE. Unexpectedly? 

JULES. She didn't expect me . . . He 
didn't expect me . . . As a matter of fact, I 
didn't even expect myself. 

EMILIE. Well, you did have provo- 
cation, at least. 

JULES. Crime of passion . . . 

EMILIE. Well . . . yes . . . 

JULES. I know. That's what the news- 
papers called it. My attorney was eloquent 
on the subject. But it was stupidity, 
Madame. Black stupidity, I should have 
sent her a telegram, 
(Alfred enters.) 



ALFRED. The patient is weeping. 

EMILIE. I must go to her. 

JULES. Why not let her weep? 
(Joseph enters from shop before Emilie can 
move.) 

JOSEPH. Madame, can you change this, 
please? Take out twenty-five francs. 

EMILIE. What did you sell? (Goes to 
bureau, takes a small cash box from drawer, 
brings it to table) 

JOSEPH. The painting . . . Madonna 
with Child . . . Artist unknown. 

EMILIE. The painting? It's been here as 
long as we have. Who bought it? 

JOSEPH. The postmaster. 

EMILIE. He couldn't have. He's an 
atheist. 

JOSEPH. He wanted a bedspread. 

EMILIE. And you sold him the Ma- 
donna and Child? Why, that's a miracle. 

JOSEPH. No, madame. I appealed to 
his cupidity. I asked one simple question. 
How do you know this isn't a Rem- 
brandt? Besides, I couldn't find a 
bedspread. (He takes the money and exits 
into shop) 

EMILIE (to Jules). Are there very 
many like you in the . . . 

JULES. In the Bastille? Oh, Madame, 
there are all kinds — a world like any 
other. All kinds. 

EMILIE. Are you all so — busy? Selling 
paintings and looking after girls who've 
fainted ? 

JULES. No. Pleasant things like that 
don't often come our way. 
(Joseph returns.) 

JOSEPH. Ten francs extra, Madame. 
(Gives it to her.) 

EMILIE. Extra? 

JOSEPH. For the frame ... A painting 
after all, consists of two items — the 
canvas and the frame. The canvas is an 
intangible. A matter of taste. Worth a 
fortune or zero. But the frame . . . Ah! 
That's real value. An investment. 

EMILIE. I'm a little dizzy. (Puts money 
in cash box, returns it to bureau drawer) 

JOSEPH (spying the books on the table). 
Books! I have a passion for books. Ac- 
count books. Jules, did I ever tell you 
about the night 1 had to doctor the books 
of a company that presumably owned 
three factories? 



i 



MY THREE ANGELS 



171 



JULES. Tell Madame. 

JOSEPH. They were air factories, Ma- 
dame. 

EMiLiE. Air? 

JOSEPH. Not compressed air. Just air. 
For invalids, convalescents. It w^as a 
marvelous idea. 

EMILIE. I'm afraid I don't understand. 

JOSEPH. Quite simple. As you know, 
doctors prescribe a change of air for 
their patients. Well, lots of people can't 
afford the Riviera or Switzerland. So we 
had factories at these resorts, where the 
air was bottled. Just as you bottle mineral 
water. 

EMILIE. Oh! 

JOSEPH. We had two kinds of bottles — 
big ones to change the air of an entire 
room and the handy pocket-size inha- 
lators ! 

EMILIE. And people bought these 
bottles ? 

JOSEPH. We never put the product on 
the market. But we had a large group of 
stockholders. 

JULES. A very large group, Madame. 
Until the judge ordered a change of air 
for him — and here he is ! 

JOSEPH. The judge, unfortunately, was 
one of our stockholders. Well, shall we 
run along? (Goes to ladder) 

JULES. I guess so . . . (To Alfred, who 
seems far away) Alfred ! (Alfred starts) 
Come on. 

(Alfred picks up the coconut cage from table 
and passes Emilie.) 

EMILIE. What have you got in there? 
(He shows it to her) Oh, a snake ! What a 
horrible creature ! 

ALFRED, why, that's Adolphe. He's 
our pal. 

EMILIE. Is he poisonous? 

jostPH (moving to Alfred). Deadly. 

JULES. We're very fond of Adolphe. 
Last year when we worked in the jungle, 
we used to be watched by a guard . . . 

JOSEPH . Extremely unpleasant man and, 
unfortunately, incorruptible. Spurned all 
bribes. A combination of honesty and 
brutality, Madame, is unbearable. 

JULES. He loved to treat us like slaves 
— while he lolled under the trees, in the 
shade. Well, one morning this little fellow 
dropped down from a branch right on to 



his red neck, (Snaps fingers) Adolphe 's 
a pal . . . Well, let's get going. 

ALFRED (suddenly, as they turn toward 
ladder). Wait a minute . . . (He quickly 
hands Jules the cage and goes into Marie 
Louise^ s room) 

EMILIE. Where's he going? 

JULES (as he turns to her, he places the 
cage on the bureau). Perhaps you'd better 
go, too, Madame. I think your daughter 
may need you now. (Emilie hurries into 
Marie Louise^ s room) Alfred must have 
heard something. Did you? 

JOSEPH. No. 

JULES. I didn't hear a thing. 

JOSEPH. Ah, youth! Keen ears — keen 
eyes. Of course, Alfred's the athletic type. 
(With a glance toward the books on the table) 
My exercises were always mental. 
(Emilie returns.) 

EMILIE. I don't understand it. She's not 
in her room — her window's open . . . 

JULES. And Alfred? 

EMILIE. I didn't see him. 

JOSEPH (going to gate). Her window 
opens onto the garden. 

EMILIE. Garden? 

JULES (suddenly) . The river ! Right off 
the garden. 
(Emilie moves to go.) 

EMILIE. I must stop her. 

JOSEPH. She's been stopped. 

EMILIE. By your friend? 

JULES. Of course. 

JOSEPH (reporting from the lookout) . 
She's arguing. 

EMILIE. I'm going to her. 

JOSEPH. Too late. 

EMILIE. Too late? 

JOSEPH. Alfred won the argument. (^He 
laughs) He's convinced her. 

EMILIE. Are you sure? 

JOSEPH (laughing as he goes to the table) . 
Alfred has a striking eloquence. Your 
daughter, Madame, is no longer thinking 
of ending it all. In fact, your daughter is 
no longer thinking. 

EMILIE. What? 

JOSEPH. Knockout! (Sits in chair at 
table, examining the books and papers) 

EMILIE. What? (Starts toward gate. Jules 
stops her) 

JULES. Only thing to do, Madame. If 
she jumped in the river, what would 



172 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



Alfred do? Jump, too. And then — she 
would struggle. He'd use the approved 
technique of knocking her out before he 
could swim back with her. The techni- 
que's just as effective ashore, and dryer. 
(Alfred enters from the garden, carrying a 
limp Marie Louise.) 

ALFRED. All present and accounted 
for. (His hair is mussed, his face scratched) 

EMiLiE. Marie Louise! 

ALFRED. She's all right, I assure you, 
Madame, as a sportsman. Pulse normal. I 
pulled my punch, of course. 

JULES. Your efficiency is monotonous. 

JOSEPH (straightening up books, papers on 
table). I really don't approve of all this 
disorder. 

EMILIE (to Alfred). Oh! You're bleed- 
ing. 

ALFRED. A scratch or two. 

EMILIE. How could Marie Louise . . . 

ALFRED. She wasn't herself. Madame. 

EMILIE. Let me put some iodine on it. 
In this climate the slightest cut becomes 
infected. 

(Exits to kitchen. Felix enters from shop, 
hangs up his hat, moves down in time to see 
Alfred carrying Marie Louise toward her room. 
Jules blocks his way.) 

FELIX. Marie Louise ! What are you 
doing with my daughter? Come back 
here! (Goes toward shop, calling) Police! 
Police ! (Alfred carries Marie Louise into her 
room) Kill me, but spare them . . . That's 
all I ask. Police ! Police ! 

EMILIE (re-entering) . No! No! Felix, 
not the police ! 

(Felix crosses back to Jules, trying to get 
around him.) 

FELIX. Marie Louise, your father's 
coming to defend you . . . Courage . . . 
Courage . . . 
(Alfred re-enters.) 

EMILIE. You don't understand, Felix. 

FELIX, What don't I understand? 

EMILIE. He had to hit her. 

FELIX. Hit whom? 

EMILIE Marie Louise. 

FELIX. Why? 

EMILIE. she scratched him. (Goes to 
Alfred to treat the scratch) 

FELIX. Are you mad? (Going to her) 
Defending this — this — beast ! Nursing him 
like a Florence Nightingale! (Turns to see 



Joseph very busy with the papers, goes to him) 
What are you doing with my papers? 

JOSEPH. If you'll forgive me for saying 
so, I find unspeakable confusion. There's 
a place for everything and everything has 
its place ! 

FELIX. What? What the devil do 
you . . . 

EMILIE (goes to him, takes his arm). 
Please, Felix. 

FELIX. But . . . 

EMILIE (to convicts as she pulls Felix toward 
Marie Louise^ s room) . Don't go before my 
husband comes back. He'll want to thank 
you. 

FELIX. Thank them? 

EMILIE (pushing him ahead of her). You 
don't know what we've been through. 
Just come along. I wonder if a hot com- 
press . . . 
(Felix exits.) 

JOSEPH. Cold, Madame. As cold as the 
climate will permit. 

EMILIE. Thank you. (She exits) 

ALFRED (dreamily) . You know . . . 

JULES. What? 

ALFRED. That girl's light as a feather. 

JULES. Forget her! Remember! We 
have one advantage — and only one — over 
other people. We can live without emo- 
tion. We can achieve serenity. 

JOSEPH. You'd better achieve some 
serenity pretty damn quick. 

JULES (sitting). It seems to me I've 
been searching for serenity all my life. 
I never really wanted love. I wanted 
domesticity. Serenity again, you see. 

JOSEPH. I have no passions — none — ex- 
cept , . . (Shop door bell rings) A customer ! 
(Rises, but hesitates) Should I? (His eyes 
glow) 

JULES. Oh, go on, enjoy yourself. 

JOSEPH. Just this once. 

JULES. Why not? 
(Joseph exits to shop.) 

ALFRED (moving toward shop) . He really 
gets a kick out of it. 

JULES (looking around). It's wonderful, 
isn't it? 

ALFRED. What? 

JULES. A home ! 

ALFRED: Oh. Yes. 

JULES. Flow^ers . . . 

ALFRED. Yes ... 



MY THREE ANGELS 



173 



JULES. That chair ... a picture . . . 
the evening paper. Her knitting . . . 
(Emilie enters^ followed by Felix.) 

EMiLiE. My husband has something to 
say to you. 

(After a warning glance back at Felix, she 
exits into room. Jules rises.) 

FELIX. My wife's just told me ... I 
apologize for the misunderstanding . . . 
for my outburst . . . where 's that other 
fellow ? 

C Joseph returns from the shop, carrying a 
white linen jacket over his arm.) 

JOSEPH. The customer wants a larger 
size — 14. This is a 12. 

FELIX. I don't believe I have a 14. 

JOSEPH. You don't. That's why I told 
him I'd get one back here — from stock. 

FELIX. From stock? I have no clothing 
stock back here. 

JOSEPH. I know that. I don't sell a piece 
of goods. I sell an idea. I'll just take this 
one right back to him. (He exits into shop) 

FELIX. But . . . He's out of his mind. 
The man'll know it won't fit. He can 
see — feel it . . . 

JULES. He won't see or feel anything. 
He won't get a chance to. 

FELIX. But it's not fair — it's not ethical 
. . . Of course, I suppose you fellows 
aren't concerned with ethics, naturally. 
I mean — I don't want to hurt your 
feelings. 

JULES. Not at all. No, some of us are 
downright crooked. Our world's just like 
yours. All kinds. The only difference is 
we were caught. 

FELIX. Oh, yes. My wife told me, and 
I wanted to thank you . I ' d like to repay y o u . 

JULES. Not necessary. 

ALFRED. Wouldn't dream of it. It was 
a labor of love. 
(Jules looks at him.) 

FELIX. Well, my wife thought ... I'm 
not sure it's a practical idea ... In fact, 
I'm not sure it's not ... 

ALFRED. What'd she have in mind? 

FELIX. I know it's impossible. But she 
thought if you wanted to — and could 
spend the evening here — since it's Christ- 
mas Eve and all that . . . 

JULES (touched). That's very kind of 
her — very kind . . . 
(Joseph enters, shows Felix the money.) 



JOSEPH. Sold! Fits him like a glove 
when he doesn't button it. (Goes to bureau, 
puts money in cash box) Oh, yes, I sold him 
some cleaning fluid for the spots. 

FELIX. There were spots ? The coat was 
spotted ? 

JOSEPH. I made the spots myself. A little 
grease. The spots explain the bargain. 

FELIX. Bargain? 

JOSEPH. At the regular price of 27 
francs, he wouldn't touch that jacket; but 
at the reduced price of 27 francs, he 
snapped it up. 

JULES. Joseph, the gentleman has in- 
vited us to spend Christmas Eve here. 

FELIX. Well, my wife thought . . . 

JOSEPH. An enchanting prospect! 

FELIX. Of course, I realize you 
can't . . . 

JULES. Oh, but we can. We accept. 

ALFRED. With thanks. 

FELIX. But won't the authorities 
object? They'll miss you at roll call! 

ALFRED. They'll forgive us! 

JOSEPH. It can be arranged. 

FELIX. It can? I must warn you — I 
haven't any spare beds . . . 

JOSEPH. We're insomniacs. 

JULES. Do you know what an armchair 
means to us? 

JOSEPH (quickly appraising the chair) . 
Imitation Louis Sixteenth. 

FELIX. And I must warn you. My wife 
hasn't prepared anything special. You 
know how expensive fowl is. 

JOSEPH (with a knowing look to Jules and 
Alfred). Christmas dinner without a 
turkey or at least a chicken? (Shop 
doorbell rings) Another customer! Bus- 
iness is brisk tonight. (Starts toward shop) 

FELIX (preceding him). If you don't 
mind . . . 

JOSEPH. What? 

FELIX. Allow me ! 

JOSEPH. By all means. (Felix glares at 
him and exits into shop. A look of disappoint- 
ment comes over Joseph) I'll just coach from 
the sidelines. (Exits into shop. Jules returns 
to his chair) 

ALFRED. Who gets the chicken? 

JULES (goes toward garden). I'll get it 

ALFRED. I'll set the table. Pick a 
plump one. 



174 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



JULES. One takes what one finds. 
(He exits to the garden. Alfred begins setting 
the table. He takes the ledgers and papers to 
the bureau. Then he removes the brocaded 
cloth from the table, folds it, and places it on 
a tall basket standing near the bureau. Marie 
Louise enters from her room, carrying a small 
suitcase, hat, gloves, etc. She's obviously 
leaving. She stops as she sees him. J 

MARIE LOUISE. Still here? (She puts 
down hat and bag, and puts on gloves) 

ALFRED . How many for dinner tonight ? 
Let's see. There's your father, mother, 
Uncle Henri, Paul, you . . . (Gets dinner 
cloth from bureau, opens it onto table J 

MARIE LOUISE. I'm not having dinner. 
I'm leaving tonight. 

ALFRED. You are? 

MARIE LOUISE. Oh, don't worry, I 
won't try it again. I'm going to the Do- 
minican convent first. Then, I'll see. 
(Alfred gets plates from bureau, sets them J 
The Mother Superior'll understand. My 
life is finished. (Picks up bag and hat, starts 
toward shop) At least, I can be of service 
to others. 

ALFRED (arranging plates). You want 
to sit next to Paul, of course . . . 

MARIE LOUISE (stops) . I told you I won't 
be here. How dare you meddle in my 
affairs ? 

ALFRED. I asked a civil question. I 
don't get it. A man travels on a stinking 
ship for weeks to see you — and you run 
away from him. (He gets silver from bureau 
drawer, sets places) You're mad about this 
man. You don't want to live if you don't 
get him. He's here. He wants to see 
you . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. See me? 

ALFRED. Why did he come if he doesn't 
want to see you? You believe that 
Suzanne? A fellow doesn't travel four 
thousand miles just to prove he's a liar. 

MARIE LOUISE. His uncle made him 
come. 

ALFRED. Where's your trust? Your 
faith? How do you know there's a word 
of truth in what she says? And if there 
is — and a marriage has been arranged — 
how do you know he isn't coming here 
to explain, to make plans to disarrange 
it — get around his uncle, with your help, 
your support, your love . . . 



MARIE LOUISE. Oh, no. (Puts down hat) 

ALFRED. It's not impossible, is it? 

MARIE LOUISE (tums to him). Do you 
honestly think so? 

ALFRED. Would he come all this way 
just to get his face slapped? 

MARIE LOUISE. I wouldn't slap his face. 
He knows that. I don't go around slap- 
ping faces. 

ALFRED. Oh, I don't know. (Feels his 
scratch and gets cups and saucers from bureau, 
sets them) 

MARIE LOUISE. I'm terribly sorry — 
about that. 

ALFRED. Forget it. 

MARIE LOUISE. You really think . . . 
Of course, there may be something in 
what you say. He's come to explain — to. . . 

ALFRED. Now shall I set a place for 
you? 

MARIE LOUISE. Funny ! I believe you 
because I want to believe you. And yet I 
know ... 

ALFRED. Give the fellow a chance ! I'll 
tell you what. Heads you go, tails you 
stay. (Picks up plate) Let's toss a plate. 

MARIE LOUISE. No, no, I'll Stay. (Puts 
down bag) 

ALFRED. Your mother almost lost a 
plate. 

(Joseph enters from shop carrying a peignoir 
on a hanger and a nightcap. He goes to table, 
and to himself, counts to ten on his fngers. 
Then he hurries back into the shop to complete 
the sale. After his exit, Alfred gets glasses 
from bureau, sets them.) 

MARIE LOUISE. Tell me . . . 

ALFRED. Yes? 

MARIE LOUISE. I know I shouldn't 
ask . . . 

ALFRED. They all want to know. Why 
was I shipped here? 

MARIE LOUISE. Was it a political 
crime? 

ALFRED. Politics? Women? Yes. Hor- 
ses? Yes. Politics? No! (Gets the cruet fom 
bureau, sets it in center of table) I never was 
interested in politics. Anyway, I've never 
held with the anarchists. What's the point 
of shooting one scoundrel ? Another will 
come along to take his place. 

MARIE LOUISE. Were you . . . 

ALFRED. Framed? No, I was guilty as 
hell. (Gets napkins from bureau, sets them) 



MY THREE ANGELS 



ns 



MARIE LOUISE. You stolc from some- 
body? 

ALFRED. Yes. 

MARIE LOUISE. You Were hungry! 

ALFRED. I'd just finished a magnificent 
dinner in Maxim's with a woman who 
. . . Well, I thought at the time she was 
the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. 
We were friends. To keep her friend- 
ship — you'll pardon me — to keep her — I 
needed my stepfather's generosity. As 
long as my mother was alive, he was 
generous enough. I went to see him. 

MARIE LOUISE. YeS . . . 

ALFRED. I really went to see his safe. 
I knew he had negotiable securities, 
jewels, money . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. Oh! 

ALFRED. Unfortunately, he was a light 
sleeper. He suddenly appeared in the 
library. He was a very imposing figure, 
my stepfather. Legion of Honor. Very 
deep voice. Old soldier. He roused the 
servants, called for the police. I lost my 
head. I killed him. 

MARIE LOUISE (gasps). How could 
you? 

ALFRED. With a poker, Mademoiselle. 
(She is horrified. He goes to chair, picks up 
her hat and suitcase. Jules enters with a 
struggling chicken, which he keeps shoving 
under his pa jama jacket. Alfred exits to her 
room.) 

MARIE LOUISE (startled by the noise and 
fluttering of the chicken) . Oh ! 
(Jules exits into kitchen as Felix enters from 
the shop.) 

FELIX (going toward her). My poor 
Marie Louise. 

MARIE LOUISE. I'm all right now. Papa. 
Funny . . . 

FELIX. What? 

MARIE LOUISE. I cau hope again. 

FELIX. Of course. Of course. 

MARIE LOUISE. He gave me hope. 

FELIX. Who? 

MARIE LOUISE. A murderer! 

FELIX. Huh? 
(Emilie enters.) 

MARIE LOUISE (going to her). Oh, 
Mama! 

EMILIE. Yes, dear? 

MARIE LOUISE (embracing her parents). 



We're going to have a lovely Christmas. 

EMILIE. Of course, we are. 
(Alfred enters, takes in the situation, goes to 
chair, and carries and places it at the table.) 

MARIE LOUISE. We're going to be very 
festive — very gay. (The family group move 
to the table) I shall sit next to Paul. His 
uncle, of course, will sit over there . . . 
His uncle will grunt as he always does . . . 
Paul will be so tactful, as he always is . . . 
(Alfred carries chair and places it at the table, 
then picks up footstool and places it against 
wall) Then we'll drink lots and lots of 
wine — especially his uncle. And he'll turn 
mellow gradually and begin to laugh. 
We'll sing, and then we'll leave Paul 
alone with his uncle. And Paul' 11 say: 
You see, sir? Our love is steel. No one — 
no one can break it. 

EMILIE. Yes . . . 

FELIX. The only thing is . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. What? 

FELIX. They won't be here for dinner. 

EMILIE. They won't? They have other 
plans? So much has happened I forgot to 
ask you if you'd got them out of Quaran- 
tine. 

FELIX. Well, as a matter of fact, I 
didn't see the Health people. I — I thought 
it over. It occurred to me . . . Well, I 
just couldn't face it tonight . . . And 
they'll be comfortable on the ship. 

EMILIE. Oh! Well, we'll get their 
rooms ready after dinner in any case. 
They're sure to be here by morning. 

MARIE LOUISE. And I wanted to see 
Paul — tonight. 

FELIX. You'll see him tomorrow. 
(Alfred goes to table). You can dream 
about him tonight. 

MARIE LOUISE. I've dreamt so long. 
(Alfred picks up two settings, returns them to 
bureau.) 

EMILIE. Well, with or without Paul, 
we still must have dinner, and I'd better 
see to it. 

(The harmonica is heard from the garden. 
Emilie exits to kitchen as Jules enters. He goes 
below table, brushing chicken feathers from 
his hands, and exits into garden. Alfred goes 
to table and returns one of the chairs.) 

FELIX (as Alfred takes other chair from 
table). I may be selfish, but I know I'm 
not sorry to be alone in the bosom of my 



I 76 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



family. fSees Alfred as he is placing chair) 
Well, practically alone. (Alfred picks up 
chicken feathers from floor) That reminds 
me — we ought to get the tree out. 
Young man . . . 

ALFRED. Yes, sir? 

FELIX. Can you open that box? (Indi- 
cates a box on commode) 

ALFRED. Got a poker? (Marie Louise 
starts) No, a chisel would be better. 

FELIX. Over there. In that drawer. 
( Alfred goes to drawer ^ takes out chisel, begins 
to open box.) 

ALFRED. Right! Here we go. 
(Harmonica is heard.) 

FELIX. I suppose I should do something 
about that harmonica, but it's Christmas 
Eve. 

ALFRED (takes out small, untrimmed tree) . 
Here's our tree. They got this one young. 

MARIE LOUISE. It's beautiful. 

ALFRED. And here are the trimmings. 
(Taking them from box.) 

MARIE LOUISE. It's France! It's home! 

ALFRED. Uhuh. 

MARIE LOUISE. That lovely pine fra- 
grance we knew as children — in the forest 
near the sea ... 

ALFRED, uhuh. 
(Joseph enters from garden with another tree, 
larger and trimmed.) 

JOSEPH. Oh, you have a tree ! 

FELIX, Where on earth did you get 
that? 

JOSEPH. I'd better return it. 
(Starts to exit, stops, swaps trees, exits to 
garden with the small tree. Jules enters from 
garden with an orchid and a camellia. 
Harmonica stops suddenly.) 

EMiLiE (from kitchen) . Felix, Felix. (She 
enters) 

FELIX. Yes, my dear? 

EMILIE. Felix, I found a chicken in the 
oven. Where did it come from? 

JULES. Praise the Lord, from Whom 
all blessings flow. 

EMILIE. Oh! 

JULES (handing it to Felix). An orchid 
for Madame . . . 

EMILIE (as Felix hands it to her) . For me ? 

JULES. And a camellia for the young 
lady, 

MARIE LOUISE. Why, thank you. 

EMILIE. I've never seen a more 



beautiful orchid, except in the Governor's 
garden. 

JULES. Neither have I. 
(Goes to tree. He, Alfred and Marie Louise 
add more trimmings. Joseph enters from 
garden.) 

JOSEPH, M. Ducotel, the young man 
out there has just paid for his harmonica. 

FELIX. Paid? 

EMILIE. How on earth did you . . . 

FELIX. But, he has no money. 

JOSEPH (examines both) . Of course not. 
We bartered. The young man wore a 
handsome gold ring. You get the hand- 
some gold ring, (Extends it to him) Some- 
times we don't sell. We barter, 

FELIX, But how do I know he didn't 
steal the ring? After all, receiving stolen 
property , . . 

JOSEPH. He made that ring himself — 
out of a gold nugget he found. He's always 
finding things — nuggets , watches , bicycles . 
How can you doubt his word of honor? 
Really ! To besmirch the reputation of an 
altar boy ! On Christmas Eve ! 
(He exits to garden. The harmonica is heard 
again.) 

EMILIE, Felix, get a bottle of wine, 

FELIX. Of course, (He looks for wine, 
fnds a bottle in basket) 

ALFRED (indicating tree) . Shall we put 
it on the table? 

MARIE LOUISE, Let's ! 

JULES (carrying it to table). Here — let 
me — Ah ! A real tree ! A real Christmas 
in a real home ! 

(Alfred takes cruet to bureau, picks up 
corkscrew, gets bottle of wine from Felix, opens 
it, then hands bottle to Jules. He places it on 
table.) 

MARIE LOUISE, Careful now , . , (Mak- 
ing room on table) 

JULES. We place it here — tenderly. 

EMILIE, I've got to go back to the 
kitchen, 

(Starts. Marie Louise gets the three-angel deco- 
ration from bureau, takes it to table.) 

JULES (stopping her). Oh, no, Ma- 
dame. Tonight we are going to prepare, 
cook and serve your dinner. Tonight we 
are your servants, (Places chair for her. 
She sits. Joseph enters from garden) Beauti- 
ful ! I've commissioned our young minstrel 
to play Christmas carols. 



MY THREE ANGELS 



177 



(Alfred brings wineglasses from bureau to 
table.) 

JOSEPH (seeing the wine, picks up the 
bottle, examines the label) . A Beaujolais ! 
Not bad! May I? 

MARIE LOUISE. PlcaSC. 

JOSEPH (pours a glass). Color perfect. 
Bouquet exquisite. (Tastes the wine) 
Mmm ! Ah . . . '97 . . . Bottled the same 
year I was ! (Hands Jules the bottle) 1 once 
organized a winery that was the marvel 
of the trade. Chateau Joseph. We had no 
wines, no bottles, not even a cork. But 
the labels were museum pieces ! The 
Prosecuting Attorney gave me a one-man 
show. 

(Jules has poured for the others. Harmonica 
playing is quite loud now.) 

MARIE LOUISE. Listen! 

ALFRED. What? 

MARIE LOUISE. He's playing: Three 
Angels. 

JULES. So he is. That was my wife's 
favorite Christmas carol. 
(The three convicts are standing together.) 

MARIE LOUISE (singing). Three Angels 
came that night . . . 

ALL (joining). That holy night . . . 

MARIE LOUISE (picks up the three-angel 
decoration, goes to front of table and places 
it on the top branch of tree) . And look ! 
Look at the tree ! We have three little 
angels on the tree, just as in the song. 
Only my angels are a little — shopworn — a 
little . . . 

JOSEPH. A little unlucky. Mademoi- 
selle. They were damaged by the long, 
rough journey here — bruised by unfeeling 
hands. Fallen angels. Mademoiselle. 

MARIE LOUISE. I don't care. (Lifting 
her glass, toasting the tree) I'm going to 
drink to — to — my three angels. 

JOSEPH — JULES — ALFRED: Thank you, 
Mademoiselle. 

She turns to them. They toast her, and all 
drink as 

THE CURTAIN FALLS 

ACT TWO 

At Rise : Several hours later. 

The table has been cleared. The boxes and 
baskets have been taken off the commode, and 
the decorated Christmas tree placed there. 



Otherwise the room arrangement is the same as 
in the previous act. 

Jules is sleeping in his armchair. Alfred is 
stretched out on the floor near the gate, the 
coconut cage near him. 

Joseph is asleep in a chair, his head on the 
table. The lamps are turned low and the 
moonlight illuminates the room and the 
sleeping figures. 

We hear thunderous knocking on the outside 
door of the shop. The knocking is repeated. 
Jules is the flrst to wake. He yawns and 
stretches, goes to the lamp on the left wall, 
turns it up. The knocking is heard for the third 
time, louder. He goes to Joseph and wakes him. 

JULES. Someone's trying to get in. 
(Turns lamp up) 

JOSEPH . Huh ? Probably the Three Wise 
Men paying us the traditional visit. 
(Knocking is heard again, still louder.) 

JULES. Impatient, aren't they? 

JOSEPH. I'll take a look. 
(He goes into shop. Presently an angry voice 
is heard.) 

HENRI (off Stage). Are they deaf in 
there? Where the devil is everybody? 
(Alfred wakes, gets up, joins Jules, puts cage 
on commode.) 

JULES. Doesn't sound like the Three 
Wise Men to me. 

(Joseph holds aside the bamboo curtains. 
Henri and Paul enter. They react to the two 
men in prison uniform. Paul carries two suit- 
cases. Henri carries his portfolio.) 

HENRI, what the devil . . . Convicts! 

JULES. At your service, sir. 

HENRI. It was so damn dark in the shop 
I didn't see . . . (Puts hat and por folio on 
table) 

PAUL. Neither did I, Uncle Henri. 

JOSEPH (enters after them and joins other 
two convicts). Allow me to introduce 
myself. I'm 301 1. (Indicates number on his 
jacket) My good friend 6817 . , . 

JULES. Enchanted. 

JOSEPH. And my esteemed colleague 
4707. 

ALFRED. How are you? 
(Felix enters, wearing robe, as though he had 
dressed hurriedly . ) 

FELIX. I thought I heard the bell . . . 
Henri ! 

HENRI. Good evening. Or rather good 
morning. 



178 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



FELIX (embracing them). My dear 
Henri . . . Welcome. Welcome. My dear 
Paul, welcome . . . (Paul puts bags onjloor 
near ladder) I had no idea you'd come 
tonight. No idea, I assure you. Naturally 
we'd have waited up for you. (Henri sits 
near table. Paul places chair for him, then 
hangs their hats on pegs) Marie Louise was 
very anxious to see you, Paul . . . Expected 
your for Christmas dinner . . . Keenly 
disappointed. 

HENRI. Was she? And were you . . . 

FELIX. What, Henri? 

HENRI. Keenly disappointed? 

FELIX. Well . . . 

HENRI. Did you get my note? 

FELIX. Well . . . 

HENRI. Don't lie. 

FELIX. Henri, I never lie. You know 
that. I don't know how I manage it, but 
I never do. 

HENRI. I asked you to use your influ- 
ence with the Health officials. Did you? 

FELIX. Well — Christmas Eve and — all 
that — You know how it is — I thought — 
you'd be better off on the ship. 

HENRI. They said you hadn't been near 
them. And if I hadn't threatened to have 
them all fired, we'd still be on that 
garbage scow they call a ship. 

PAUL. The heat was stifling. 

HENRI (opens portfolio, arranges papers) . 
A drunken cab driver was inflicted upon 
us. Even his horse was drunk! By great 
good fortune we managed to weave our 
way here without being killed. We are 
then greeted by your retinue of servants. 
(Indicates the three) I congratulate you 
upon your menage ! 

FELIX. Menage? 

HENRI. Don't tell me they're not your 
servants. What are they ? Your friends who 
are spending Christmas Eve with you? 

FELIX,, Well, as a matter of fact, they 
are — in a way. 

JOSEPH (coming forward). The boss 
means a good servant is always a friend. 
A bad servant is bound to be an enemy. 
He'll not only ruin your digestion. He'll 
even squeal to the police. Believe me, I 
speak from bitter experience. 

HENRI. Have our bags taken to our 
rooms. 

FELIX. Certainly. Emilie has given you 



these rooms here. I hope you'll forgive 
the primitive quality of our hospitality. 
Marie Louise fixed her room for you 
herself, Paul. I'll take your bags. (He^s 
about to pick up bags when Alfred forestalls 
him) 

ALFRED. Allow me . . . 

HENRI (to Paul). Paul, go with him 
and be sure and lock your door when you 
retire. 

PAUL. Yes, sir. (Exits into room, followed 
by Alfred) 

HENRI. I'm no more timid than the 
next man, but these fellows look danger- 
ous. (Joseph smiles at Jules) I suppose you 
always go armed. 

FELIX. No. 

HENRI. Well, I intend to sleep with a 
revolver in my hand. (To convicts) Bear 
that in mind. 

JULES. Yes, sir. 

HENRY. You too ! 

JOSEPH. Yes, sir. We clean, oil and 
polish revolvers — part of our daily im- 
peccable service. 

HENRI. You won't get your hands on 
mine. (To Felix) The rest of our luggage 
is in the shop. 

FELIX. I'll get them. 

JOSEPH. Allow me. (Exits to shop) 

JULES. Would you gentlemen care for 
something to eat? 

HENRI. You're the cook, I suppose. 

JULES. Yes, sir. 

FELIX. He's very good. He did a 
chicken with almonds tonight that was 
superb. 

HENRI. You dined well? 

FELIX. Oh, very well. 

HENRI. Congratulations ! I had a nause- 
ating dinner. Chicken with almonds ! 
Business is suddenly booming, I take it. 

JULES. Chickens cost nothing here. 

HENRI. Bring me some fruit. 
(Paul enters, carrying suit.) 

JULES (starts toward kitchen) . Very good, 
sir. (Turns to Paul) And you, sir, would 
you care for something to eat? 

PAUL (hesitating) . I'm famished. What 
have you got? (Places suit on chair) 

HENRI. Whatever it is, have it brought 
to your room. 

PAUL. Sir? 



MY THREE ANGELS 



179 



HENRI. I want to have a little talk with 
Felix. 

PAUL. Yes, sir. I wouldn't mind some 
cold chicken. 

JULES. Yes, sir. (Exits to kitchen J 

HENRI. Good night, Paul. 

PAUL. Good night, sir. (Alfred enters) 
You there . . . (To Alfred, picking up suit, 
tossing it to him, then exits to room) I have 
a suit for you to press. 
(Joseph enters from shop with hag. Alfred exits 
with hag, after swapping the suit for the hag. 
Joseph continues to study Henri after throwing 
suit on chair.) 

JOSEPH. Yes, sir? 

HENRI. Get out! 

JOSEPH. How can I resist such a cordial 
invitation? (Exits to kitchen, followed hy 
Alfred, who re-enters) 

HENRI (staring after them) . Assassins ! 

FELIX. They're really not bad fellows. 
For criminals, I mean. 

HENRI. Now, let's get right down to it. 
I have very little time to give you. I have 
a factory to inspect and some mines. I 
have only two days here. Now . . . 

FELIX. Henri, you're tired — it's aw- 
fully late — hardly the time to talk busi- 
ness . . . 

HENRI. I'm not talking business — yet. 
I've sent Paul to bed so that you and I 
can straighten out this nonsense with- 
out a lot of silly chatter. 

FELIX. Nonsense? 

HENRI. I suppose you know Marie 
Louise had an affair with Paul before she 
left. 

FELIX. Affair? 

HENRI. At least I assume there was an 
affair. You are fortunate there were no 
consequences. 

FELIX. Good God! 

HENRI. At least I assume there were no 
consequences. You're not a grandfather. 
I take it. 

FELIX. Do you mean to tell me . . . Are 
you implying . . . 

HENRI. So there the matter rests. You 
may be an idiot, but even you must know 
I would never tolerate such a ridiculous 
marriage for Paul who is, at the moment, 
my legal heir. So if you're dreaming of a 
return to France via Marie Louise — wake 
up ! I don't blame you for trying. I don't 



blame Marie Louise. As a matter of fact, 
I find the matter amusing. Where the 
devil's my fruit? 

(Marie Louise and Emilie enter. They have 
dressed hurriedly.) 

FELIX (miserably). Emilie, Henri's 
here. 

EMILIE. How are you, Henri? 

HENRI (rises). Good to see you, 
Emilie. You, too, Marie Louise. (He kisses 
their hands) You look charming. 
(Emilie joins Felix.) 

MARIE LOUISE. Is PauI . . . 

HENRI (sits) . Gone to bed. 

MARIE LOUISE. Oh! Did you have a 
good trip? 

HENRI (sardonically). Delightful. 

MARIE LOUISE. Was Paul seasick? He's 
such a poor sailor. I remember once he 
took me sailing, and it wasn't really 
rough at all, but pour Paul suffered so, 
we came right back. He was furious 
with himself. 

HENRI. You little fool. 

FELIX. But just a moment . . . The child 
merely . . . 

EMILIE. There's no need to insult my 
daughter, Henri. 

HENRI. I have no patience with fools, 
male or female. Paul's engaged. Damn 
good family and a damn good business. 
I couldn't buy old Audibert out. So I'm 
marrying him. The girl's a cow, but 
she'll give milk. 

(Felix turns away in embarrassment. Henri 
returns to his papers.) 

MARIE LOUISE. Oh! 

EMILIE. If you'll excuse us, we're going 
to bed. Goodnight, Henri. 

HENRI. Good night. 

EMILIE. Come, Marie Louise. 

MARIE LOUISE (with dignity). Good 
night, M. Trochard. 

HENRI. Good night, Marie Louise. 
(Emilie and Marie Louise go out.) 

FELIX (as Henri makes no move) . I must 
register my protest against your rudeness 
— your — ^your — insults — ^your — your ar- 
rogance ! You had no right to upset Marie 
Louise — ^and her mother. Marie Louise is 
a very sensitive girl. A good girl. (His 
voice breaks) 

HENRI. Dear, dear. 

FELIX (drawing himself up). It's very 



i8o 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



late. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to 
bed. (Starts) 

HENRI. I'm not excusing you (Felix 
stops) I'm not at all sleepy. Now that I've 
disposed of the affair Marie Louise, let's 
get down to business. How's it going? 

FELIX. Well, I've spent the first year 
getting adjusted — acclimated. Getting 
used to local conditions, so to speak. 

HENRI. And are you acclimated? 

FELIX. I think you'll find the second 
year a great improvement. A great im- 
provement. I know^ the obstacles, so to 
speak. 1 know the market . . . 

HENRI. You do? 

FELIX. Oh, yes. 

HENRI. How much business did we do 
last month? 

FELIX. Last month? 

HENRI (impatiently) . November! 

FELIX. November? 

HENRI. November's always preceded 
December. Let's have the figures for 
November, if you don't mind? 

FELIX. I don't remember. 

HENRI. Where are the books ? Look up 
the figures, man. 

FELIX. I'm not sure what the figures 
are. I haven't added up the totals yet. 

HENRI. It's the twenty-fourth of De- 
cember — technically the twenty-fifth — 
and you haven't closed your books for 
November? 

JOSEPH (entering from kitchen ^ carrying 
large piece of cardboard and bamboo stick) . 
Of course we have, sir. 
(Felix turns in surprise.) 

HENRI. What do you know about it? 

JOSEPH. I'm the bookkeeper, sir. 

HENRI. The bookkeeper! Congratu- 
lations. How much did you embezzle last 
month? 

JOSEPH. Our gross receipts were thir- 
ty-two thousand, eight hundred and fifteen 
francs and forty-two centimes, sir. An 
advance over the preceding month of 
exactly eight thousand, five hundred and 
eighty-one francs and two centimes. 

HENRI. An advance? 

JOSEPH. Our figures for October were 
twenty-four thousand, three hundred and 
forty seven, and forty-eight centimes. 
(Showing cardboard) I am preparing a 
chart — a graph. You'll forgive the crude 



quality of cardboard and ink. Would you 
mind? (Felix holds one end. Joseph uses 
pointer) You will observe here that 
business declines steadily — in the first few 
months — due to new management — 
conservative clientele skeptical of any- 
thing new, et cetera — then observe that 
suddenly in August — with the reawaken- 
ing of confidence — M'sieu's grasp of the 
affair, et cetera — the line rises, steadily 
up, up, up, up — I expect — and I am a 
cautious observer — a record breaker for 
December . . . Right up here. I'll need 
more cardboard. (He indicates the line has 
run o^the cardboard. He places the cardboard 
and pointer back oj the bureau) 

HENRI. It's fantastic. A convict ac- 
countant. Charts, graphs. He knows more 
about the business than you do. 

JOSEPH. The boss has more important 
things on his mind. 

HENRI (laughs). Did you hear that, 
Felix? You have more important things 
on your mind. 

JOSEPH. He creates policy — guides, 
directs. 

HENRI. Really? Tell me, Felix, it is 
still your policy to extend credit right 
and left? 

FELIX. Well . . . 

JOSEPH. Certainly not, sir. The boss 
always says that giving credit to a 
customer is like making him a gift of 
the merchandise. 

HENRI. You said that, Felix. 

FELIX. Well . . . 

JOSEPH. The boss always says: I'm a 
business man, not a philanthropist. Let 
others play Santa Claus. I'll play safe. 
Hard as a rock, the boss. He has one 
God — cash on the line. 

HENRI . Perhaps I never appreciated you 
Felix. But I doubt it. 

FELIX. Just a moment . . . 

HENRI. What about shortages? 

JOSEPH. Inconceivable. The boss has 
an eye like a hawk. 

HENRI. Losses due to thefts? 

JOSEPH. Try it some time. 

HENRI. What's that? 

FELIX. As a matter of fact, I've just had 
some trouble about a case of Chartreuse — 
which did disapper mysteriously and . . . 

JOSEPH. Pardon me, sir. The Chart- 



MY THREE ANGELS 



i8i 



reuse was delivered by mistake to the 
Cafe de la Poste. I forgot to tell you. 
These bungling wholesalers ! Call them- 
selves merchants ! No system, no organi- 
zation. If you knew the difficulties the 
boss has to contend with ! 

HENRI. Well, we'll see when we take 
inventory tomorrow . . . ( Closing his port- 

folio) 

JOSEPH. Inventory — tomorrow? But, 
sir ! You realize to morrow is Christmas ! 
A holy day! 

HENRI. Good. Then the shop will be 
closed, and we won't be disturbed. 

FELIX. Can't we wait until the day 
after . . . 

HENRI. The day after I'm devoting to 
somewhat more substantial matters. I've 
some mines to look into. (Rising J We'll 
go over everything tomorrow. I hope, 
for your sake, everything's in order. 
Where do I sleep? 

FELIX (pointing to room J . In here, 
Henri. 

HENRI (going to room) . Good. I rise at 
six. We can start at seven — promptly. 
Good night. (He exits into room) 

FELIX (to Joseph) . Have you gone mad? 

JOSEP. Sir? 

FELIX. Fake charts — graphs — prepos- 
terous statements. I didn't have sense 
enough to stop you. Or the courage. 

JOSEPH. The situation seemed to call 
for boldness — and a little exaggeration. 

FELIX. It's not enough to pull figures 
out of the air — concoct stories about the 
Cafe de la Poste. I must produce books 
tomorrow — and the stock . . . 

JOSEPH (smiling) . Oh, books ! (Goes to 
bureau y gets ledgers) 

FELIX. What do you mean: "Oh, 
books ! ' ' 

JOSEPH (bringing the ledgers to the table) . 
We have all night to straighten those out. 

FELIX. It'll take more than one night. 

JOSEPH. You don't know my system 
of inspired accounting. (Goes to bureau for 
inkwell and pens) Trouble with most 
businessmen is they think mathematics is 
a science. With me, it's an art. 

FELIX (as it dawns on him). You 
mean . . . 

JOSEPH. Sir, doctoring your books will 
be a delightful treat for me? 



FELIX. I wouldn't dream of falsifying — 
any statements. 

JOSEPH. Let me explain: Sir, in busi- 
ness, as in life itself, we have reality, 
and we have the appearance of reality. 
Now you're a painfully honest man. But 
your books make you look like a crook. 
All I want to do is to make your books 
reflect ^ou — the real you. I want to paint 
your portrait. 

FELIX. That's all very well, but . . . 

JOSEPH. For example, you might have 
drunk the Chartreuse yourself or given 
your missing Swiss watches to some little 
native girl. 

FELIX. 1 happen to be a devoted hus- 
band and father. 

JOSEPH. Not in your books. In them 
you're a waster, a lecher, a scoundrel. 
I want to restore your character. And 
in presenting a picture of a prosperous 
establishment, I want to restore your 
confidence, your faith in yourself, your 
morale as a manager. Armed with my 
books, you'll go forth and make the 
books come true ! And now — with your 
co-operation . . . 

(He prepares to go work. Henri enters in his 
dressing gown.) 

HENRI. I thought I'd find you still up. 

FELIX (startled^ B'^^^S ^^ ^ini) • Can I get 
you anything, Henri? 

HENRI. Just your books. 

FELIX. My books? 

HENRI. The accounts. 

FELIX. Oh, yes — the accounts. 

HENRI. Don't tell me you want to do a 
little work on them. I'll keep them in my 
room tonight. I want them just as they 
are now — in all their pristine purity. 

FELIX. Henri, your suspicions are . . . 
are . . . (He stops) 

JOSEPH (assembling the books). I'm sure 
the gentleman will apologize in the 
morning, but if its the books he wants, 
sir, the books he shall have. 

HENRI. Are they all there? 

JOSEPH. Yes, sir. I'll put them in your 
room. (At the door) The fourth page is 
loose. (Exits) 

HENRI. You don't seem to share your 
accountant's confidence? 

FELIX. Well . . . 



l82 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



HENRI. Let's hope I can say I'm sorry 
in the morning. 

fAs Henri reaches the door to exit^ Joseph 
opens door. He Jills the narrow doorway so 
that Henri cannot pass. Joseph turns sideways ^ 
hut this does not create any more space. 
Realizing the impasse^ Joseph hacks in the 
room to allow Henri to exit. Then Joseph enters, 
closing door behind him.) 

JOSEPH (admiringly) . Sharp as a razor, 
isn't he? I thought of dumping the books 
in water — making the ink run, the figures 
blur — but he'd have caught on. He's so 
damn suspicious. Besides, there was no 
water in there. 

FELIX. I'm relieved. 

JOSEPH. Relieved? 

FELIX. Yes. Because I was tempted. I 
might have let you doctor the books. I 
would have lived to regret it. 

JOSEPH. Regret? 

FELIX. Oh, I know I'm ridiculous. But 
I still have honor left. 

JOSEPH. There must be something 
that could be done. 

FELIX. I forbid you to do anything. 

JOSEPH (impressively) . Do you realize, 
tomorrow morning at seven, a tornado 
will roar out of that room . . . 

FELIX. I know. 

JOSEPH. And you're not afraid! 

FELIX. Of course, I'm afraid. If I were 
put upon a wild stallion, the fear of falling 
off would not make me a horseman. You 
see, I don't know how to ride. I'm an 
honest man. I don't say that boastfully. 
Nor apologetically. I state a fact. I don't 
know how to be anything else. 

JOSEPH. Isn't that interesting? My dear 
sir, you're a phenomenon ! 

FELIX. You may laugh at me, but that's 
the way I am. I'm going to bed. I think 
I may even sleep. In fact, I'm sure I will. 
For an honest man I am a dreadful liar. 
How can I close my eyes tonight? What's 
to become of us? And Marie Louise — 
Paul didn't even ask for her. Good night. 
(Exits. In the pause that follows, Joseph 
devises a plan. After a look in the direction 
of the room that houses Henri, then toward 
VauV s room, he quickly puts on his glasses, 
goes to the bureau for writing paper, returns 
to the table and begins writing. Jules, carrying 
a plate with a chicken wing, followed by 



Alfred, enters from kitchen, headed toward 
PauVs room. Joseph interrupts them. They 
stop.) 

JOSEPH. What have you got there? 

JULES. I'm bringing the young man his 
cold chicken. (Holds up chicken wing) 

JOSEPH. Pretty small portion. 

JULES. All that's left. Alfred ate the 
leg just now. He wasn't hungry — ^just 
malicious. 
(A big grin from Alfred.) 

JOSEPH. We can't offend the young 
man with such measly hospitality. Besides, 
he shouldn't be thinking of food at a time 
like this. 
(Jules puts plate on table.) 

ALFRED. That's what I say! Here he is 
under the same roof with a girl who 
adores him, worships him . . . 

JOSEPH. The situation is in hand. 

JULES. What's up? 

JOSEPH. We arrange a meeting. At 
once. 

JULES. Huh? 

JOSEPH . Too bad I haven't got a sample 
of the young man's handwriting. 

JULES. Handwriting ? 

JOSEPH. So I'm printing it. (Reads the 
note he has written) *'My dearling! My 
own ! Come to me ! I wait ! I tremble ! 
Oh, my adorable, my beloved! I shall 
always be your Paul." Alfred, give this 
to her. Her room is back of her parents' 
room. Be quiet as a cat. 

ALFRED. Right. (Takes note and exits.) 

JULES. She's not sleeping. I'll guaran- 
tee that. 

JOSEPH. You get the young man. 
(Jules goes to door and knocks. Joseph returns 
paper to bureau. Paul emerges in robe.) 

PAUL. Yes? 

JULES. Pardon me, sir. I'm awfully 
sorry, but there's no cold chicken left. 

PAUL. Oh, what a nuisance! 

JOSEPH. It wouldn't have been cold in 
any case. You know what our climate is 
like. We blow on all our food to cool it. 

PAUL. Well, damn it, haven't you got 
anything else? 

JOSEPH. We have warm centipede. 

PAUL. What? 

JULES. A native delicacy. 

PAUL. I'd rather go to sleep hungry. 
(Starts to room. Jules stops him.) 



MY THREE ANGELS 



183 



JULES. Sleep? You haven't seen her yet. 

PAUL. What? 

JOSEPH (walking with himj . Do you 
think she^s sleeping? 

PAUL (staring from one to the other J . 
Marie Louise? 

JOSEPH. Who else? 

JULES. She needs you, my boy. She 
needs you desperately. She loves you. 

PAUL. What the devil? 

JOSEPH. She waits! She trembles! She 
pants ! 

JULES. Be young, young man. There's 
so little time. 

(Alfred enters, followed by Marie Louise. He 
moves quickly out of the way, so that the girl 
is standing alone near the door. J 

JOSEPH. What a coincidence! Here 
she is ! 
(Jules and Joseph join Alfred.) 

PAUL. Marie Louise . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. Paul, dear, dear, 
Paul . . . (She runs to him, throws her arms 
about him. Mission accomplished, the three 
convicts quietly go into garden) 

PAUL. 1 . . . Uh . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. It's been so long . . . 

PAUL. Marie Louise, my dear . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. 1 couldn't sleep ... I 
couldn't think . . . 

PAUL. Neither could I, of course. It's 
been a wretched trip. Wretched. The 
God-awful heat — the filth — and Uncle 
Henri isn't the easiest traveling com- 
panion in the world. 

MARIE LOUISE. Tell me everything. 

PAUL. Everything? Well, where does 
one begin? 

MARIE LOUISE (sighing relief). And to 
think I doubted you — for even a moment. 
That Suzanne . . . 

PAUL. Oh, Suzanne . . . Well . . . 
Uh. . . 

MARIE LOUISE. How could I havc been 
so blind? Why couldn't I see for myself 
you wouldn't have come four thousand 
miles just to hurt me? 

PAUL. If you only knew how I had to 
scheme and wangle to come at all ! 

MARIE LOUISE (going to him) . How did 
you manage it? 

PAUL. Persistence — patience — tact. It 
wasn't easy, but one manages when one 



loves (Holding her) If you only knew how 
I ache for you, hunger for you . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. Then marry me — now 
— ^here . . . 

PAUL (steps away with a look toward 
Henries room) . Now? Here? 

MARIE LOUISE. What does it matter 
what he thinks? What can he do? Fire 
you? Disinherit you? What does that 
mean? 

PAUL (turning away). But my dar- 
ling ... 

MARIE LOUISE (moving close). We're 
young. We'll get along somehow. I don't 
mind cooking and scrubbing — for you. 

PAUL. I know, but . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. And you'd find something 
to do. There are plantations. You can be 
a supervisor. Ride about in a pith helmet, 
looking very beautiful, and ordering 
people about. 

PAUL. I don't know anything about 
plantations. 

MARIE LOUISE. You'd learn. 

PAUL. And this frightful heat. 

MARIE LOUISE (going to him). There 
are the mines. They're cool. You could 
manage a mine. 

PAUL. My dear Marie Louise, I'm 
thinking of you. Is it fair to condemn you 
to a life of — well, this sort of thing ? You're 
entitled to a decent home, servants — 
Paris . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. That'll come later. 
When you've become a huge success — at 
something — anything. I don't mind wait- 
ing. I don't mind waiting forever. 

PAUL. But I do. I love you too much 
to condemn you to this wretched life 
here. No, my darling, it isn't as simple 
as you think. Oh, I've given it a lot of 
thought, believe me. 

MARIE LOUISE. At home you had to 
fight him alone. Here you have me to help 
you. 

PAUL. Exactly. 
(He kisses her. Henries door opens. He carries 
one of the account books. He sees them, stops, 
closes door.) 

HENRI. Charming! (The two separate 
quickly. Paul almost leaps) Well, Paul, 
since you have so much excess energy, 1 
suggest you expend it on something useful 
— these accounts. They're a mess. I want 



1 84 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



a report on them in the morning. Go to 
your room. (Gives him book) 

MARIE LOUISE (moving up to block his 
way). Paul, don't go! 

PAUL. Sir, I wanted to explain . . . 

HENRI. Didn't you hear me? Go to 
your room ! 

PAUL. Yes, sir. (He goes toward room. 
Marie Louise is still standing where she 
blocked his way before. He cannot look at her. 
After a pause, he circles her and exits into his 
room) 

HENRI. Now you listen to me, young 
woman. (She stops) Apparently I didn't 
make myself clear earlier. For the rest 
of my stay — twenty-four hours precisely 
— I don't want you to exchange one 
single word alone with Paul. Is that clear? 

MARIE LOUISE (tums to him). That's 
what you want — yes. That's clear. What's 
also clear is you've frightened Paul — 
made him timid, abject, servile. How 
could you? 

HENRI. You're wasting your time. I'm 
not going to let Paul make an ass of him- 
self. He owes you nothing. It takes two 
to indulge in these little affairs. If your 
parents had taken proper care of you, 
it wouldn't have happened. (Stops, eyes 
her shrewdly, curiously) I take it you have 
had an affair. 
(The three Angels appear at garden gate.) 

MARIE LOUISE. That's not true! 

HENRI. You resisted — bravely? Be 
that as it may . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. I didn't want our love 
to be furtive — and cheap. I wanted every- 
thing — ^or nothing. I still do. Paul under- 
stands. It's difficult for him because he's 
a man, but he understands. 

HENRI. Be that as it may — (The Three 
Angels open gate and enter the room) I sug- 
gest you turn your attentions elsewhere. 
You can find yourself a young man — or an 
older man. I suggest an older man with 
a little money in the bank whom you can 
hoodwink into an ironclad religious cere- 
mony. On the other hand, if ceremonies 
don't interest you, but the comforts of 
life do, I should say your future was very 
bright. Very bright indeed. (Now the three 
convicts move slowly forward) You're young 
— pretty . . . You have a desirable air of 
innocence . . . (As he turns away from her 



toward his room, he sees the men) What the 
devil do you want? (Convicts do not move) 
Are you all deaf? (Silence. Finally, he turns 
to Marie Louise) Well, I've nothing more 
to say to you, in any case. Good night. 
(He exits into his room) 

MARIE LOUISE (quickly going to them). 
There's something I must know — now. 
I can't sleep until I do. 

JOSEPH. Yes? 

MARIE LOUISE. I must See Paul — now. 
Tonight ! 

JOSEPH (indicating bedroom) . Go ahead ! 

MARIE LOUISE. I Can't go to his room. 
I want you to tell him I'm waiting in the 
garden. Plaese hurry. (She exits to garden) 

JULES (to Alfred). Go get him. 

JOSEPH. Wait a minute! I wonder if 
this is wise. 

JULES (sh ugs). Who knows? She 
wants him. She shall have him. 

JOSEPH (to Alfred). Go get him. 
(Alfred goes into PauTs room.) 

JOSEPH. I'm not sure she's going to be 
grateful to us for this. 

JULES. Perhaps she's impatient to 
know the worst. 

JOSEPH. The young man — and mind 
you, I'm pretty tolerant — is even more 
of a stinker than I thought, 

JULES. Perhaps he's just cautious. 
Let's be fair. Caution is a virtue I've 
learned not to despise. 
(Alfred enters with Paul. He pushes him for- 
ward. Paul is in his shirtsleeves. Alfred carries 
his jacket, stands blocking the door to his 
room.) 

ALFRED. Come on. 

PAUL, where are you taking me? 

ALFRED. Get going. 

PAUL. What do you want? 

JULES. We're concerned with your 
happiness, my boy. 

PAUL. What? 

JOSEPH. Someone is waiting for you in 
the garden. 

JULES. Under the bougainvillea. Hurry. 

PAUL. Marie Louise? 

JULES. Correct. 

PAUL (looking from one to the other) . I 
warn you! (Looks about) I'm going to call 
for help. 

JOSEPH. Just because you're asked to 
meet a lovely girl in the garden on a 



MY THREE ANGELS 



iSs 



gorgeous tropical night? Gentlemen, 
what has happened to France? 

PAUL. I have work to do — the ac- 
counts . . . 

JULES. Accounts? Can this be our 
youth ? 

PAUL. This is sheer insanity. (Starts to 
room, but can't get by Alfred. He turns back J 
What the devil are you interfering in my 
life for? This is grotesque ! 

JULES. You forget it's Christmas. 

PAUL. What? 

JOSEPH. You're our Christmas gift to 
the young lady. 

PAUL. You're mad! What can I say to 
her? 

JULES (going to him). Whatever she 
wants to hear — that you love her. 

JOSEPH. You do love her? 

PAUL. Of course I love her. I've told 
her that. 

JOSEPH. Tell it to her again. 

JULES. Woman never get bored with 
repetition of the simple trite phrase: I 
love you. They supply their own vari- 
ations on the theme. 

JOSEPH. Exactly. Let her do most of 
the talking. Occasionally you may be 
called upon to say : "Yes, my love ! ' ' And 
occasionally you will say: "Always and 
forever." Since it's dark, she won't be 
able to see your face and know your 
lying. 

PAUL. I'm not my own master. She 
doesn't understand that I cant marry her. 

JOSEPH. Let's live for this night only. 
Let's leave the future — to the future. I 
suggest you kiss her . . . 

ALFRED. What for? 

JULES. It's customary! 

JOSEPH. Kiss her frequently — and 
tenderly. 

JULES (moving close to him) . Behave out 
there as if this were the most important, 
the most beautiful, the most cherished 
moment of your life. 

PAUL. But Uncle Henri ... Is he 
asleep ? Awake ? What if . . , 

JOSEPH. We'll take care of Uncle 
Henri. Go! Think of her for once. We 
want to give the young lady an hour's 
happiness — and it seems to me we're 
giving you a pleasant interlude. You ought 
to be damn grateful. 



PAUL (finally). Very well, I'll go. 

JOSEPH. Bravo! 
(Alfred steps down, holds jacket Jor Paul to 
get into.) 

PAUL (smiles, puts on his charm). And 
I am grateful — (Exits to garden. Jules goes 
to gate to watch Paul off stage) 

JOSEPH. We make progress. 

JULES (shrugs). It's what she wants. 

ALFRED. Women! 

JULES. Don't you think they ought to 
be chaperoned? 

JOSEPH. Chaperoned? 

JULES. She's overwrought — they have 
only this night — perhaps their last night 
— the garden — the moonlight . . . 

ALFRED. I'll break every bone in his 
body. (Exits to garden) 

JOSEPH. That is not the function of a 
chaperon ! 

(Follows Alfred out into the garden. Jules 
closes the gate, then slowly goes to his chair 
and stretches out in it. During this, church 
bells are heard chiming. After a pause he gets 
up and goes to the door of Henri's room, and 
peeks through keyhole. Emilie enters, to find 
Jules at Henri's door.) 

EMILIE (amazed) . What are you doing? 

JULES. Two o'clock and all's well. 
Our dear uncle sits with one hand 
clutching the bedpost as if it were a 
competitor's throat. With the other, he 
slashed at your husband's books with a 
pencil. He's broken three pencils in the 
past two minutes. 

EMILIE. Where's Marie Louise? She's 
not in her room. 

JULES. She's — around. 

EMILIE. She's not in the garden with 
that young man, is she? 

JULES. As a matter of fact, she is. 

EMILIE. At this hour?! 

JULES. Don't be afraid, Madame. 
They're being chaperoned. 

EMILIE. Chaperoned? 

JULES. Properly. My friends are out 
there. 

EMILIE (moving toward garden). Marie 
Louise ! 

JULES. Please, Madame, why spoil the 
happiness she's been dreaming about for 
so long? 

EMILIE (turning to him). She's only a 
child. 



i86 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



JULES. Only in your eyes. And if you 
must think of her as a child, then, Ma- 
dame, remember it's Christmas. Children 
want toys for Christmas. Let her have 
her toy. 

EMiLiE. This is a very dangerous toy. 

JULES. Why break her heart? No, it's 
better to let her have her toy, until in the 
natural course of events it gets broken, 
and she'll no longer care. 

EMILIE. If I only knew^ what to do ! 

JULES. Believe me, I've given the 
matter considerable thought in the last 
few minutes. You see, Madame, I'm 
playing father to the child I never had. 

EMILIE : Oh! 

JULES (moving toward chair). I sit in 
this armchair, with my eyes closed, and 
imagine myself the head of this house. 

EMILIE. Poor man. 

JULES. We must see her through this 
trying moment, Madame. Patiently. One 
false step — and she's lost. Go to bed, 
Madame. 

EMILIE. I won't sleep. 

JULES. You must. You owe it to her. 
There's nothing you can do tonight, be- 
lieve me. We're here. 

EMILIE (staring at him). As I listen to 
you — look at you — I don't know whether 
I'm awake, or asleep and dreaming. 

JULES. Good night, Madame. (Emilie 
exits. Jules closes his eyes. Alfred and Joseph 
enter. He opens his eyes) How's it going? 

JOSEPH. Beautifully. 

ALFRED (looking off stage to garden) . 
He's a cold fish. 

JOSEPH. On the contrary, I'll admit 
that at first it didn't sound promising. 

JULES. And then . . . 

ALFRED. He sat there — mumbling 
about his damn uncle. 

JULES. And then? 

JOSEPH. Then they were silent. They 
looked at the stars. 

ALFRED. Not a word from him ! Like a 
mute! Then he talked. Dribbled, He's 
quoting poetry right now. It took him all 
this time ! 

JOSEPH, Some men respond slowly. Be 
fair, be tolerant. (Jules goes to his chair^ 
sits) I had the feeling that if the boy were 
free to think for himself, one could 
hope . . . 



JULES. Really? 

ALFRED. He's a spineless flounder. 

JOSEPH. You're prejudiced. I tell you 
the boy wouldn't be half bad without his 
uncle. (Indicates Henri s room) One man 
capable of so much mischief. 

ALFRED. Yeah. 

JOSEPH. Ironical, isn't it? He's free 
and we're in prison. There's no justice. 

JULES. Let's bring him to justice. The 
case of humanity versus Henri Trochard ! 
Bring in the prisoner. (Alfred goes to chair ^ 
places it facing upstage^ in the area between 
the table and the chair Jules is sitting in. Then 
he goes back to table. To Joseph) Proceed, 
Mr. Prosecuting Attorney. 

JOSEPH. Stand up! Do you deny the 
evidence? Hurry up! I haven't got all 
year. 

JULES. Please, this is a solemn occasion. 

JOSEPH. I'm in a hurry ! I need another 
conviction. I am ambitious. I mean to be 
Prime Minister some day, or at least 
Deputy Administrator of Outdoor Com- 
fort Stations. 

ALFRED. I object. 

JULES. Sustained. 

JOSEPH. Overruled. 

JULES. I am the Judge. 

JOSEPH. I'm in a hurry. 

JULES. Mr. Defense Attorney. 

JOSEPH. Gentlemen of the Jury — I say 
to you my client is no criminal. He is a 
patriot. He has contributed to the greater 
glory of our beloved country. 

JULES. How? 

JOSEPH. Who cares? Gentlemen of the 
Jury, I say to you my client is directly 
responsible for the tremendous increase 
in our country's birthrate. Consider how 
he overworks and underpays his many 
employees. After a fourteen-hour day, do 
the patronize they haunts of sin, the 
theatres, the concert halls, the cafes? No. 
They totter home to their wives and 
enjoy the only diversion left open to them. 
Vive la France. 

JULES. Prisoner, stand up ! A stupid 
jury which understands nothing of the 
nature of man nor of the world he lives 
in, has found you guilty as charged. 
(Henries door opens and he enters^ stares at 
them for a moment. He carries a sheaf of 
papers. He goes to PauVs room.) 



MY THREE ANGELS 



187 



HENRI. Paul . . . Paul . . . (Tries the 
door^ opens it, goes in. Jules returns the chair 
to place at table. Alfred goes to gate. Henri 
re-enters) Where's my nephew? 

JULES. Isn't he in his room? 

HENRI. He is not. And you know he's 
not. Where is he? 

JOSEPH. If you must know, he's in the 
garden, with the young lady. They make 
a charming couple. (Henri moves toward 
garden. Alfred blocks his way) They don't 
wish to be disturbed. This is their mo- 
ment. 

HENRI. Out of my way. I've had just 
about enough of your damned imper- 
tinence. (Reaches in his pocket. Obviously 
doesnt jind what he^s looking for) 

JOSEPH. Alfred, the gentleman is look- 
ing for something. 

ALFRED (producing gun) . This, sir? 

HENRI. Give me that. (He snatches it. 
Alfred doesnt resist) 

ALFRED. I cleaned it. 

JOSEPH. It was in dreadful shape. The 
barrel was filthy. Naturally we removed 
the cartridges. We had to . . . They were 
damp anyway. 

JULES. The climate, you know. 

JOSEPH. Frightful. 

JULES. Very unhealthy. 

JOSEPH. I'd never bottle this air. 
(Henri meanwhile examines gun and confirms 
the facts. He puts gun back in pocket.) 

HENRI. You've got your nerve, you 
scoundrels ! 

JULES. You've no use for a revolver 
anyway. 

JOSEPH. We're here. We'll protect 
you lovingly. We make ideal watchmen! 
We never sleep. Twenty-four-hour ser- 
vice ! 

HENRI. I'll have you all arrested in the 
morning. 
(Convicts laugh.) 

JOSEPH (indicates Jules and Alfred) . I'm 
afraid you're much too late. They've been 
arrested permanently. I'm only in for a 
brief twenty years. Sounds long, but when 
one thinks geologically — historically — a 
mere flicker of time. 

HENRI. Murderers! 

ALFRED. Correct! 

JOSEPH. Except for me. I was like 
yourself — a business man. 



HENRI (turns to him). You're a thief. 

JOSEPH. You're not very polite. I don't 
think I want to take inventory for you 
tomorrow ! 

HENRI. Don't worry. You won't. 

JOSEPH. God knows I've taken inven- 
tory with all kinds of people. But one 
draws the line somewhere, and I draw the 
line at you. 

HENRI. I'll settle your hash in the 
morning. They have ways of punishing 
scoundrels like you. I'll see to it that you 
pay for this outrage. I'll report you to the 
Governor — first thing in the morning. 
(Exits into his room, slamming door. In the 
pause that follows, Joseph goes to his chair. 
Jules goes to Henries door.) 

ALFRED. He's going to see the 
Governor in the morning. 

JULES. Sixty days solitary . . . 

JOSEPH. Or six months in that hellish 
jungle. (Shudders) I'm not normally a 
pessimist, but I say again: There's no 
justice. 

ALFRED. No. 

JULES. Sixty days solitary, if we're 
lucky. 

JOSEPH. If only our dear uncle would 
disappear ! Vanish ! 

JULES. Yeah. 

ALFRED. He's human. 

JOSEPH. I doubt it. 

ALFRED. I Still say he's human. Know 
what I mean? 

JULES. Know what he means? 

JOSEPH. Now, gentlemen, please, I'm 
not a man of violence. Anything physical 
is repugnant to me. Besides we may get 
caught. 

ALFRED. Well? 

JOSEPH. I want to live. 

ALFRED. Why? 

JOSEPH. I want to know what tomor- 
row will bring. 

ALFRED. I know now. 

JOSEPH. There are other tomorrows. 
Listen to me ! I have a plan. If you help 
me escape . . . 

JULES. Yes? 

JOSEPH. I'll go to Cherbourg . . . 

ALFRED. Well? 

JOSEPH. I'll assume another name, an- 
other personality. 

JULES. And then? 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



JOSEPH. I'll go to work for him and 
at the end of a year he'll go bankrupt and 
blow his brains out. 

JULES. It doesn't sound very practical 
to me, your plan. 

ALFRED. Always the promoter — escape 
— bankruptcy — a year. I'm a man of 
action. 

JULES. Just a moment . . . 

ALFRED. You're not weaseling out, 
too? 

JULES. No. 

ALFRED. Well, let's go. 

JULES. Just a moment. Every man's 
entiled to a fair trial. 

JOSEPH. He's already had his. 

JULES. True. 
(They think.) 

JOSEPH. How? That is the question. 

ALFRED. Simple. 

JOSEPH. How? 

ALFRED. Adolphe ! 

JOSEPH. Adolphe! 

JULES. Of course. 

JOSEPH. An inspiration ! Quick, humani- 
tarian and safe. 

ALFRED. An accident. 

JULES. Only too common in the 
tropics. 

ALFRED. Here we go! (Rises, picks up 
coconut cage from commode, goes below table 
to door of Henries room) 

JOSEPH. An accident is about to be 
arranged. 

JULES. Let justice be done. 

ALFRED. Go, Adolphe! (Opens the box 
against a crack in the door) Right through 
the crack. Go Adolphe! 

JOSEPH. Has he gone? 

ALFRED (looks into Cage). Gone. 

JULES (with glee). I bet he's climbing 
right up the bed. Right up the post. 
Adolphe sees the hairy hand. The hand 
opens palm up, as if to say: I want mine. 
All right, says Adolphe. You can have it 
all. Keep the change. 

JOSEP. Funny, I never thought of it. 

JULES. What? 

JOSEPH. A snake farm. There's a for- 
tune in it! Think of the demand. Think 
of all the relatives in the world who want 
to get rid of other relatives. 

JULES. Hear anything? 



ALFRED. Not a sound. Trust Adolphe. 
He's a quiet worker. 

JULES. As the presiding judge, I should 
note the exact time of execution. 

JOSEPH. Let's not be bureaucratic. 
Shall I say a few flattering words about 
the deceased? 

JULES. No. 

JOSEPH. It's customary. (Rises) I was 
thinking of something like : He was a 
devoted bachelor and an uncle. 
(Alfred, who has been peering through the 
keyhole, turns back.) 

ALFRED. I can't tell if he's asleep or 
dead. 

JOSEPH. I have an infallible test. Rattle 
a few coins. 

ALFRED (cfter another look). Hasn't 
moved. 

JOSEPH. We shall know in the morn- 
ing. 

(During the following speech, Alfred goes to 
the lamp on the wall and turns it down. Then 
to the other lamps, turning them down. He 
then stretches out on the floor, prepared to 
sleep.) 

JULES (quietly as he gets up) . Those who 
should be asleep are asleep. Those who 
should be dead are dead. (Looking offstage) 
Our young lovers are neither dead nor 
asleep. Just half way between, as they 
should be. 

(He stretches out in his chair. As Alfred turns 
down the last lamp, Joseph, who has been 
sitting quietly, thinking, gets up and moves 
to bureau, where he picks up a stack of writing 
paper, inkwell and pens and brings these 
supplies to the table.) 

JULES, what are you going to do? 
JOSEPH. I'm going to write the last will 
and testament of Henri Trochard. 

He puts on his glasses, sits and prepares 
for his new task as 

THE CURTAIN FALLS 



ACT THREE 

At Rise : The next morning. 

Early morning sun is pouring into the room. 
Alfred is still asleep. Joseph is seated at table 
with collection of pens, inks, paper, and 
laboriously writing. Jules enters from kitchen 
with coffee, cheese and bread on a tray. 



MY THREE ANGELS 



189 



JULES (placing tray on table). How's it 
coming? 

JOSEPH. The last will and testament of 
the deceased is practically ready. One 
more sentence and I'm finished. 

JULES. One more sentence and we're 
all finished. 

JOSEPH. Please! It's too early in the 
morning for your morbid fancies ! 

JULES (pouring coffee for the three). 
Anyway, you're enjoying the job. 

JOSEPH (showing letter) . Why not? This 
is my masterpiece ! Here is the note from 
dear Uncle Henri. Here's my sample 
effort. Compare! Ink, handwriting! Per- 
fection ! 

JULES. Don't ask me. I'm no expert. 
(Takes his and Alfred' s mugs, goes to Alfred, 
wakes him. Alfred sits up, drinks.) 

JOSEPH. I challenge the experts ! There 
isn't a court in France that won't honor 
the deathbed request of our poor old 
uncle. (Reads) "My conscience has been 
bothering me grievously of late. 1 have 
a curious premonition of death, somehow. 
I am writing this shortly after midnight 
and ask that this constitute a codicil to my 
will. If anything should happen to me, 1 
implore my nephew, Paul, to restore to 
Felix Ducotel, my cousin, the Gallery 
Modeme in Cherbourg, which I acquired 
by sharp practice. 1 could not face the 
judgment of Providence if this were not 
done. Paul, you are my heir, and I beg 
you to help a repentant and tortured 
sinner by making generous amends to my 
cousin, Felix. (So moved by the following 
sentiments that a tear comes into his voice) 
Please, Paul, respect my wishes. Be 
happy, Paul, as I was not. Be honest, 
Paul, as I was not . . . Henri Trochard." 

JULES. Be happy! Be honest! Damn 
good advice to a young man starting out 
in life with a fortune. And easy to follow 
for a young man with a fortune. 

JOSEP. I'm deeply moved by the old 
sinner's sudden repentance. It just goes 
to prove . . . 

JULES. What? 

JOSEPH. There's little good in the 
worst of us . After all , he had a conscience ! 

JULES. You gave him one. A beauty! 

JOSEPH (modestly). It was nothing, 
really. Nothing at all. (Dunks his bread in 



coffee, proceeds then with his work. Alfred, 
having finished his coffee, places mug on table, 
then goes to chair and picks up the coat of 
PauTs suit that has been there since the 
previous act) 

JULES. By the way . . . (Dunking his 
bread in coffee) 

JOSEPH. Yes? 

JULES. Before you finish his will . . . 

JOSEPH. Only a codicil — technically. 

JULES. Don't you think it would be a 
good idea to make sure the deceased — is 
dead? 

JOSEPH. I have the utmost confidence 
in Adolphe. I'm sure everything went 
according to plan. Incidentally, we must 
get Adolphe back to his cozy little nest. 

JULES. As soon as I finish my coffee, 
we'll take a look. 

(Alfred takes off his convict's coat and slips 
into PauVs jacket.) 

ALFRED. How do you like me? 

JOSEPH. Splendid! 

ALFRED (going to mirror). He's got a 
good tailor. I once had a wonderful tailor. 
I think 1 still owe him some money. 

JOSEPH (working) . Naturally ! You were 
a gentleman ! 

ALFRED (stroking cloth). Feels good. 
Look at that lining. (Strokes lining) Feels 
like a woman's skin, 

JULES. Why torture yourself? 

ALFRED. No harm in pretending I'm 
human again. 

JULES. You're an adolescent. 

ALFRED. That's what my stepfather used 
to say! "Grow up!" he used to say. You 
know, I was thinking out there — it's all 
his fault. 

JULES. Whose? 

ALFRED. My stepfather's. 

JULES. Because you smacked him over 
the head with a poker? 

ALFRED. I wouldn't be just wearing 
Paul's jacket. I'd be in Paul's shoes. If it 
weren't for the old bastard. 

JULES. I don't follow you. 

ALFRED. Look ! That night I dined with 
Jeannine at Maxim's. Suppose the old 
bastard were a different kind of old 
bastard. A real father. Someone like you. 
(Indicates Jules) I'd come up and see you. 
I'd say, "Good evening, sir." 

JULES (entering into spirit of the thing) . 



190 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



you y( 



sir 



What do you want now. you younj 
scoundrel? More money? 

ALFRED. How'd you guess, 

JULES. A girl, I suppose. 

ALFRED. Yes, sir. 

JULES. Sowing a few wild oats, eh? 

ALFRED, Yes, sir. 

JULES. Well, you're only young once. 
How much do you want? 

ALFRED. Five thousand, sir. 

JULES. Here you are, you rascal. 

ALFRED. Thank you, sir. 

JULES. And then? 

ALFRED. I'd find out Jeannine was a 
tramp. 

JULES. And then? 

ALFRED. And then I'd go on a long 
journey to forget her. I'd try this place — 
that place — and then I'd wind up here. 
I'd walk into this shop. I'd see her. She'd 
see me. I'd wire you — my stepfather. 
"Have found the girl. We want your 
blessing." 

JULES. Bless you, my children. Come 
home. All is forgiven. 

ALFRED. Now do you see why it was 
all his fault? 

JULES. Of course ! The Judge should 
have given you the Legion of Honor 
and put the poker in the Louvre as a 
national monument. 
f Alfred looks in mirror.) 

MARIE LOUISE (enters, dressed for 
church, carrying hat, gloves, prayer hook). 
Good morning. (The men respond. She goes 
to table) What are you writing? 

JOSEPH (covering his work). My mem- 
oirs. 
(Marie Louise stares at Alfred) . 

MARIE LOUISE. Oh, your jacket. 

ALFRED. It's Paul's. 

MARIE LOUISE. I know. Did he give it to 
you? You look very handsome. 

ALFRED. I do? 

MARIE LOUISE. Of coursc, Paul wears 
clothes with such — distinction. Such 
elegance. 

ALFRED (glumly). Yes. 

MARIE LOUISE. But you look very 
nice. What is your name? You know, I 
don't even know any of your names. 

ALFRED. Alfred. 

MARIE LOUISE. You look vcry nice, 



Alfred. (As she turns to Jules, Alfred walks 
away) And you are — ? 

JULES. Papa Jules. 

JOSEPH. I'm Uncle Joseph. 

MARIE LOUISE. I'm going to Mass. Will 
you still be here when I get back? 

ALFRED. Yes. 

MARIA LOUISE (to Alfred). I want to 
thank you for — well — for everything you 
said yesterday. About Paul, I mean. You 
were right, you know. I was a fool to 
doubt him. Oh, I know he'll never love 
me as I love him. After all, I'm only a 
small part of his life. He has so many 
interests. But I don't mind. I want so 
little. Even his uncle must know that. 

JOSEPH. His uncle knows everything 
now. I think you'll find he's acquired 
wisdom overnight. In fact, he's a changed 
man. (Beams) 

MARIE LOUISE (puzzled) . He is? How? 

JULES. You'll be late for Mass. 

MARIE LOUISE. Since you're so anxious 
to get me off to church, I'm going to say 
a little prayer to St. Anthony for all of 
you — and for myself. (Exits into shop) 

JOSEPH. Done! (Rising) My master- 
piece. My magnum opus! The codicil to 
Uncle Henri's will be discovered here. 
(Puts it on bureau in a prominent position, 
and the writing materials in their place.) 

JULES. We have a will, but have we a 
corpus delicti? Suppose — now just sup- 
pose Adolphe missed him — or ignored 
him. 

ALFRED. Adolphe wouldn't let his pals 
down. 

JULES (doubtfully). I don't know. 

JOSEPH. Shall we have a little bet? 

ALFRED. I'm a sportsman. 

JOSEPH. I'll hold the stakes. 

JULES. Ten centimes our dear uncle's 
alive and snoring. 

ALFRED (giving coin to Joseph). Take 
you. 

JULES. Right. 
(Joseph gets coin from Jules.) 

ALFRED (picks up cage at chair and goes 
toward Henri's room). I'll go see. 

JULES (stopping him). Just a minute. 
I don't trust you. If he's still alive, you 
might bash his head in just to win a bet. 
You go, Joseph. 

JOSEPH (sits facing table). Me? I'm 



MY THREE ANGELS 



191 



squeamish. I don't like looking at dead 
people. It offends me esthetically. 

JULES. Somebody's got to go. 

JOSEPH. You go. 

JULES. Oh, no. I'm the Judge. I never 
look at my victims. I like to sleep nights. 

JOSEPH. Well, somebody . . . 
(Mme. Parole enters from the shop, wearing 
the same hat she wore in Act One, but a 
different dress. She carries an opened bottle of 
cognac and her purse. J 

MME. PAROLE. Well, making your- 
selves at home, aren't you? 

JOSEPH. Sorry I didn't hear the bell. 
I'm M. Ducotel's nevv^ assistant. May I 
assist you? 

MME. PAROLE. I w^ant to See M. 
Trochard. 

ALFRED and JULES. What? 

JOSEPH. M. Trochard? 

MME. PAROLE. Oh, don't stare at me 
SO stupidly. I know^ he arrived last night. 
I want to tell him a few^ things about 
M. Felix Ducotel — the swindler! (Show- 
ing the bottle) Here, taste this cognac. 

JOSEPH (taking bottle). You want me 
to . . . Thank you. Season's greetings. 
(Gulps) 

MME. PAROLE. Delicious, isn't it? 

JOSEPH. Well, you've got to remem- 
ber the thousands of miles this bottle has 
traveled — and the climate. Travel broad- 
ens us all, including cognac. 

MME. PAROLE. Really ! How profound ! 

JOSEPH. I'll admit it has a little taste 
of— of . . . 

MME. PAROLE (exploding). There's no 
taste at all. It's plain water. 

JOSEPH. Water? Madame exaggerates. 

MME. PAROLE. So I'm exaggerating, 
am I ? Read that label ! 

JOSEPH. For window display purposes 
only. 

MME. PAROLE. Of all the outrageous 
. . . Ruining my Christmas ! 

JOSEPH. This is the wrong label. You 
don't think a company in its right senses 
would send a sample bottle thousands of 
miles. For what? This is a sound cognac, 
Madame. I say that not only as a merchant, 
but as a connoisseur. 

MME. PAROLE. Are you mad? Read 
that label. 



JOSEPH. Do you believe everything you 
read? 

MME. PAROLE. Assassin. 

JOSEPH. Please, Madame, no person- 
alities. 

MME. PAROLE. I Want to See M. 
Trochard. 

JOSEPH. Somebody should see M. Tro- 
chard. (Putting bottle on table) It might 
as well be you. (Indicates to the left) Please. 
This way, Madame. (She starts toward the 
kitchen. Alfred blocks her way at the same time 
as Joseph speaks) No, no. Right in here. 
(Points to Henries room) 

MME. PAROLE (doubtfuUj) . He's in 
there ? 

JOSEPH. Don't worry, Madame. It's 
not his bedroom. He's converted it into 
his office. M. Trochard is famous for con- 
verting everything into an office. Even his 
church pew on Sundays. (She knocks) 
Don't bother knocking. He may not hear 
you. Step right in, Madame. 

MME. PAROLE. You're sure it's all 
right ? 

JOSEPH. Of course. After all, Ma- 
dame, it's very important for you to see 
M. Trochard. The cognac is just an excuse. 
You've come because your husband is 
unhappy in the Customs Service and 
wants to be a merchant again. He wants 
to take over this shop. You want to help 
him get it. 

MME. PAROLE. Of all the . . . (She 
enters Henries room) 

JOSEPH. We'll soon know. 

JULES. This is one bet I hope to lose. 
(Mme. Parolees suppressed shriek is heard. 
Alfred, with extended hand goes to Joseph, 
who pays off the bet. Mme. Parole enters from 
the room, dazed.) 

MME. PAROLE. Hc's dead! 

JOSEPH (apparently astonished) . What? 

JULES. Did you say dead, Madame? 

MME. PAROLE. I'm going to the police. 
If you scoundrels had anything to do with 
this, you'll pay for it. 

JOSEPH. Madame, if you go to the 
police, we'll have to tell them — 

MME. PAROLE. Tell them what? 

JOSEPH. That we saw you coming out 
of his bedroom after your rendevous. 

MME. PAROLE. Rendezvous? 



192 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



JULES. Madame, what were you doing 
in his bedroom? 

MME. PAROLE (indicating Joseph). He 
told me . . . 

JOSEPH. It'll make a fascinating story. 
So romantic ! 

JULES. Shocking affair ! Noted financier 
expires in ecstasy! 

MME. PAROLE. But . . . 

JOSEPH. A happy death. Madame, you 
have nothing to reproach yourself for. 
You gave yourself to him to help your 
husband. Your husband will understand. 
Your husband stayed up all last night on 
the ships working for you. And you stayed 
up all night here working for him. 

MME. PAROLE. How dare you? 

JOSEPH. Back of every successful man 
is a devoted wife! Yes, we have quite a 
story to tell the police. Shall we go along 
with you? fHe backs toward shop entrance) 

MME. PAROLE (weaklj) . I'm not going 
to the police. I'm going home. 

JOSEPH. By the way, I just remem- 
bered. You have a bill. Quite a large bill. 
It's time you paid. 

MME. PAROLE. I'll take care of it. (She 
tries to leave. He stops her) 

JOSEPH. How about a little something 
on account. (Eyeing her bag) I'll bet you 
have a few hundred francs there. Yester- 
day was payday for the Customs and you 
have a model husband. Turns his pay right 
over to you. 

MME PAROLE. I haven't any money 
with me. (As she backs away Jrom him, she 
runs into Jules) 

JOSEPH. I'll bet you have. Let's look 
together. 

(As she turns to look at Jules, Joseph seizes her 
hag.) 

MME. PAROLE. How^ dare you? 

JOSEPH. What'd you say? 

MME. PAROLE, (frightened) . Nothing. 
(As Joseph is going through the contents oj the 
bag) I need that money. I've some 
shopping to do . . . 

JOSEPH. Don't tell me this is the only 
shop that gives you credit ! 

MME. PAROLE. Certainly not! 

JOSEPH (fishing out bills) . I was right. 
Here we are. Three hundred francs. 
Congratulations, Madame. (Hands her the 
bag) I'll credit them to your account. 



MME. PAROLE. But . . . 

JOSEPH. Don't forget your cognac. 
(Gives her bottle) Keep it well corked and 
at room temperature. I recommend you 
use a snifter. Warm it with your hands 
to bring out the bouquet. And sip — don't 
swill ! 

(Mme Parole exits, into shop, bewildered, 
frightened. Jules and Joseph chuckle. Joseph 
places the money in the cash box in the bureau 
drawer.) 

JULES (to Alfred). You'd better get 
Adolphe. 

ALFRED. Right. 

JOSEPH. Use a towel on Adolphe. 

ALFRED. I'll handle Adolphe. (Exits) 

JULES. Godspeed. 

JOSEPH (going toward Jules) . I say this 
objectively — Despite his sudden repent- 
ance, I think the world will be a better 
place without our dear uncle. 

JULES (hands him his mug) . Still we face 
the old, old problem — Does the end 
justify the means? 

JOSEPH (puts mug on table). Of course. 

JULES. I wonder. 

JOSEPH. My philosophy is simple. If I 
perpetrate an outrage, it's justifiable. It's 
moral ! It's noble ! If someone else does 
it — it's an outrage. 
(Alfred enters from Henries bedroom.) 

ALFRED. I can't find Adolphe! 

JULES (galvanized) . What? 

JOSEPH. Did you look in the bed? 

ALFRED. Of course. 

Jules. We've got to find him. 

ALFRED. I looked everywhere. The 
window is shut tight. He may have 
crawled back in here. 

(Jules quickly rises and looks under chair 
cushion, then under the chair.) 

JOSEPH. We can't leave Adolphe loose. 
The poor little thing has no judgment 
when he bites. How can he differentiate 
between good and evil without us to guide 
him? 

ALFRED (anxiously) . Maybe Adolphe's 
crawled off somewhere — sick — maybe 
he's dying . . . 

JOSEPH. It's possible. Our dear Uncle 
was highly indigestible, even for a snake. 
(All three are looking as Paul enters. Joseph 
and Alfred are on their knees. Jules is searching 
to the left.) 



MY THREE ANGELS 



193 



PAUL. Where are my . . . 

JOSEPH (sees him, straightens up). We 
were just looking for a collar button. 

PAUL (stares at Alfred) . What the devil 
are you doing with my jacket? 

JOSEPH. The valet was just brushing 
it, sir. 

PAUL. Does he have to wear it to 
brush it? 

JOSEPH. It's a quaint local custom he's 
acquired. Alfred, take the gentleman's 
clothes to his toom. And while you're 
there, I suggest you look for the collar 
button. (He undulates his hand at Alfred as 
he exits) 

PAUL. What collar button? Mine? 

JOSEPH. No. A native product. 

PAUL. I can't wait to get out of this 
damn country. (Exits, following Alfred) 

JOSEPH (going to ladder and climbing it) . 
It just occured to me. We should look 
in the rafters. Adolphe likes trees — 
maybe he likes rafters. If he's strolled out 
into the garden, we're going to have a 
sweet job finding him. 
(Emilie enters.) 

EMiLiE. Looking for something? 

JOSEPH. Yes, Madame — a collar but- 
ton. 

EMILIE. On the ceiling? 

JOSEPH, Like other laws, the law of 
gravity doesn't always work. (Climbing 
down the ladder) If you will excuse me, 
I will continue my exploration in the 
Garden of Eden, looking hither and thither 
for the source of all our human wisdom. 
(Exits to garden) 

EMILIE (takes cup and saucer from 
bureau). What a strange man! Is M. 
Trochard still asleep? 

JULES (nodding). Dead — to the world. 
(She starts to sit in chair. Jules quickly stops 
her, picks up the chair, examines it, taps it on 
the floor, then, sure Adolphe is not on it, 
places the chair for Emilie to sit. She does. 
Jules continues to look for Adolphe.) 

EMILIE (pouring her coffee). You'll be 
leaving us today, won't you? 

JULES. Yes, Madame. We'll be off 
soon — all four of us, I hope. 

EMILIE: Four? 

JULES. Adolphe, our pet. 

EMILIE (shuddering). Oh! (After pause. 



during which she pours coffee for him) It's 
been interesting — your visit here. 

JULES (turns to her). It's been inter- 
esting for us, too. (Picks up his mug) 

EMILIE. I want you to know — I don't 
know how to say this — but I want you to 
know that I don't blame you for what 
you did. (Jules listens, puzzled) That isn't 
what I meant to say. About your wife, I 
mean. It may console you a little to know 
that others, too, have these impulses — 
wild, almost uncontrollable impulses. I 
had such an impulse last night, as I was 
trying to fall off to sleep. 

JULES. You? You wanted to kill some- 
body? 

EMILIE. Henri — M. Trochard. 

JULES (moving closer). Him? You 
wanted to kill him? (He begins laughing) 

EMILIE. Oh, I know you think me 
ridiculous. 

JULES. Not a bit. 

EMILIE. It's absurd, of course. 

JULES. Of course. Just how did jou 
plan to exterminate M. Trochard? 

EMILIE. My crime was all in my mind. 

JULES (smiles). Of course. No, you 
could never do it, Madame — under any 
circumstances. Think it? Yes. Perhaps 
even plan it. But actually do it . . . 
(Shakes his head) 

EMILIE. Felix wouldn't even let him- 
self think it. Poor Felix. 

JULES. Why poor Felix? He's happy. 
And you're not unhappy. 

EMILIE. I suppose not. I know that in 
a few hours, many dreadful things may 
happen. We may be shipped back to 
France, penniless, with no prospects, 
nothing. God knows what we'll do. But 
somehow, I find myself echoing Felix : 
"Things will work out somehow. There's 
always hope." 

JULES. He is right. Hope is everything. 
Even we have hope. We hope to escape, 
although we know we'll never do it. We 
hope for a pardon, although we know 
we'll never get it. 

EMILIE. You know, sometimes I can't 
help wondering if I wouldn't have made 
a better wife for a man who wasn't a 
child — someone who didn't believe in 
fairy tales — who depended not on others, 
but on himself — and a little on me. 



194 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



JULES. Men like that have no reason 
to marry. 

EMILIE. You did. 

JULES. Me? I believed in fairy tales, 
too — and vs^hen I stumbled on reality, I 
killed. You know^ what / was thinking 
when / finally fell off to sleep last night? 

EMILIE. What? 

JULES. I was thinking — if 1 had married 
a woman like you — w^ell, I wouldn't be 
here. 

EMILIE (touched, excited) . More coffee ? 

JULES. Thank you. (Extends his mug) 

EMILIE. I'm beginning to wonder what 
is the matter with me this morning. I'm 
really feeling, thinking, saying — the most 
absurd — ridiculous . . . 

JULES. Thank you for saying them. 

EMILIE. I'm beginning to believe I'm 
the romantic — not Felix. 

JULES. Yes . . . 

EMILIE. I'm really not myself. 

JULES. Thank you for this Christmas — 
it'll be a treasured memory. A man in 
my position doesn't store up many 
memories — and you — when you get back 
home to your Brittany — to the kind of 
home you should have — all this will be 
an amusing story for a dull dinner party. 

EMILIE. I don't see a future of dinner 
parties, dull, or otherwise. 

JULES. Remember: Hope! Things will 
work out somehow. (Paul enters) Per- 
haps he^ll work them out. 
(Emilie looks up, startled. Jules gets cup and 
saucer from bureau, pours coJ[ee and takes 
cup to Paul.) 

PAUL (kisses her hand) . Good morning, 
Madame. 

Paul, it's nice to see you. 
I'm sorry I missed you last 



EMILIE 
PAUL. 

night. 

EMILIE 



That's quite all right. 

PAUL. That's a strange valet you have. 

EMILIE. Valet? 

JULES. Alfred! 

PAUL. He's standing on the bed in his 
muddy sandals and staring at the ceiling. 

JULES. He's looking for native wild 
life. He's a great student of nature. 
(Felix enters.) 

FELIX. Where — Where is Henri? 
(Jules hands Felix cup and saucer. He puts it 
on table. Emilie pours.) 



EMILIE. He's still asleep. 

PAUL. Asleep? (Puts cup on table) But 
that's impossible. 

EMILIE. Why? 

PAUL. He never sleeps this late. (Looks 
at his watch) He's always up at six-thirty. 
No matter where he is. No matter how 
late it is when we go to bed. I don't 
understand it. (Goes to Henries door) I'm 
sure he'd want me to wake him. He said 
he had a heavy schedule. (Knocks on door) 

FELIX. Well . . . Why not let him 
sleep? 

PAUL. Then he'll think / overslept. I'd 
better go in and see. (Paul exits into 
Henries room) 

EMILIE. I hope nothing's happened. 

JULES. Do you? 

FELIX. Beautiful day. (Looks at ther- 
mometer) Only 104. 

(Alfred enters, shakes his head. Jules signals 
him to wait quietly. There is a pause before 
Paul enters, dazed.) 

FELIX. What's the matter? 

PAUL (moving away from door) . My 
uncle — is — is — dead. 
(Emilie rises.) 

ALFRED. Dead as a mackerel. But 
where the hell is . . . 

(Jules quiets him quickly, as he goes to table, 
busies himself with arranging the dishes, on 
the tray. Alfred exits to garden.) 

EMILIE (rises). Paul . , . 

FELIX. Dead . . . 

PAUL. His heart ... It must have been 
his heart! 

JULES. Did he have one? 

EMILIE. Felix! 

PAUL. I don't understand it. His doc- 
tors said he would live to be ninety ! 

JULES. He can sue his doctors for 
breach of contract. 

FELIX. I'd better . . . (Goes into Henri's 
room) 

EMILIE. I can't believe it! 

PAUL. I don't understand it. (Follows 
Felix into room) 

EMILIE. I must be dreaming. 

JULES. You see, Madame, it isn't 
necessary to kill. Fate always arranges 
for the triumph of good over evil. 

EMILIE (stunned). He's dead! 

JULES. Uhuh! No need for violence — 
no guilt — no self-reproach! 



MY THREE ANGELS 



^95 



EMiLiE. I can't help feeling a little — 
guilt. For even thinking . . . 

JULES. In civilized countries, thinking 
is not a crime. 
(Felix enterSy followed by Paul.) 

EMILIE. I'm so confused I no longer 
know where I am. 

FELIX. It's so . . . It's terrible. 

EMILIE. I think I'll go to my room. 

JULES. A very good idea. 

FELIX. Of course, darling. (She exits) 
I'll get a doctor to take care of the for- 
malities. Paul, will you stay here, my 
boy? (Joseph enters from garden with Alfred. 
Jules goes to them J I'll be back as soon as I 
can . . . 

JOSEPH. I've just heard the news. We've 
lost a great man. 

FELIX. I would never have forgiven 
myself if I'd deceived him last night. 

JOSEPH. You were right. Once more 
we see that virtue is its own reward. 

FELIX. Extraordinary. To die so sud- 
denly. (Felix exits into shop) 

JOSEPH. The Lord giveth, the Lord 
taketh away. 

(He and Alfred look about, still seeking 
Adolphe. Paul starts toward Henri^sroom. 
As he reaches the door he becomes aware that 
the three convicts have their eyes on him.) 

PAUL (mopping his brow elegantly) . 
What a thing to happen. I can't believe 
it. This is dreadful ! 

JULES. May I offer my sympathy? 

PAUL. Thank you. 

JOSEPH. Your uncle's death must be a 
great loss to you. I speak emotionally — 
not financially. 

PAUL. Oh, yes . . . 

JOSEPH. A great loss. (Makes his way 
to bureau where he has left the forged note) 
Oh, there seems to be a note here for you. 

PAUL. Forme? 

JOSEPH. Here it is. (Taking it to him) 

PAUL. Thank you. (Takes it. Stares at 
writing) From Uncle Henri? 

JOSEPH. I wouldn't know. (Paul opens 
envelope. Joseph watches him warily, then 
casually) I hope you didn't mind our 
little joke last night? 

PAUL (absently, staring at note). Little 
joke? 

JOSEPH. The episode in the garden — 
under the bougainvillea — the bench . . . 



PAUL. Oh, not at all. (Stares at letter) 
It was very pleasant — very . . . (His voice 
trails off as he studies letter, then crumples it 
and is about to tear it up) 

JOSEPH (seizing his hand). That's no 
way to treat a letter from your Uncle 
Henri — and he barely cold in his bed. 
(Jules and Alfred move to table.) 

PAUL. Let me go . . . 

JOSEPH. All communications from the 
deceased must be preserved. Have you no 
respect for the law? (Straightens out the 
letter) All communications ! No matter 
how trivial . . . (Pretends to study it) And 
this doesn't seem trivial at all. Not at all ! 
(Gasps) A dying man's last request — ^his 
last gasp. A voice from the grave ! 

JULES. Really? 

PAUL. I'm — so upset naturally that — i 
didn't understand it . . . I . . . 
(He gets up to reach for the letter, but Joseph 
passes it to Jules.) 

JOSEPH. It's clear. (To Jules) It's clear 
to you, isn't it? 

JULES (pretending to read). I have a 
curious premonition ... to restore to 
Felix Ducotel, my cousin ... Be happy 
as I was not. Be honest, as I was not . . . 
(Hands letter to Joseph) 

JOSEPH (Glaring at Paul). Your fian- 
cee's father! Cheating him! Cheating the 
dead! Sir, you're a cad! 

ALFRED. With all that money he's 
inheriting ! He wants more — the swine ! 

PAUL. I have every intention of respect- 
ing my uncle's w^ishes. 

JOSEPH. Now that we have this codicil 
to his will securely in our possession ! 

PAUL. I won't contest it, I assure you. 
I repeat: I respect my uncle's wishes. 
If the document is genuine ! 

JOSEPH. If? You doubt this document? 

ALFRED, what about Marie Louise? 

PAUL. What about her? 

ALFRED. Are you marrying her? 

PAUL. I don't see how that concerns 
you. 

JOSEPH (stopping Alfred from attacking 
Paul). We went to some considerable 
trouble last night to smooth the path of 
love. 

PAUL (after pause). In this, as in all 
other matters, I shall be guided by my 
uncle's wishes. 



196 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



JOSEPH. You realize, of course, that 
you're now free to do as you please. 
PAUL. Yes. 
JULES. You're rich — your own master 

PAUL. Yes. 

JOSEPH. But Suzanne Audibert, whose 
complexion cleared up miraculously, still 
attracts you? 

PAUL (after pause) . Yes ! 

JOSEPH. Gentlemen, a strange thing 
has happened. His uncle didn't die after 
all. He lives on — in him! 

PAUL. I find this conversation dis- 
tasteful — and impertinent. Once and for 
all . . . My relations with Marie Louise 
are my business, not yours. I'm not free 
to do as I please . . . Wealth is a responsi- 
bility. 

JULES (going toward him). Get out! 
Before I forget myself! 

PAUL. What? 

ALFRED. I'd like to bash his head in. 

PAUL. You can't intimidate me. I'll 
report you. 

JULES (ominously) . Your uncle wanted 
to report us. 

ALFRED. Yeah. 

JULES. We don't like being reported. 

ALFRED. No. 

PAUL. I believe the authorities have 
ways and means of punishing scoundrels 
like you. I was planning to call on the 
Governor with my uncle. Now I'll go 
alone, and tell him how his convicts 
behave. As for that — forgery . . . 

JOSEPH. Forgery? 

PAUL. Suddenly a note appears a mo- 
ment after my uncle's death. Suddenly! 
Suddenly he's repentant. I'll tell you what 
/ think. I think you concocted this little 
scheme. And if M. Ducotel was a party 
to this, and I suspect he was, you may 
tell him I shall demand an official inquiry. 
Handwriting experts. And you can also tell 
him I'm going to have his books audited. 
A man capable of forgery is capable of 
embezzlement ! Now, with your permis- 
sion, I'm going to pay my respects to the 
dead. 

(Exits into Henries room. There is a long 
silence, during which Jules moves to right of 
table ^ Joseph moves to above table, Alfred goes 
to door of Henries room, glaring.) 



JULES. Shall we hold another trial? 

JOSEPH . Now, please, not two accidents ! 

ALFRED. Why not? 

JOSEPH. We'll never get away with it. 
Besides we've lost our executioner. 

ALFRED. I'll do this job myself. 

JULES. No, Alfred. Don't lose your 
head. 

JOSEPH. No! Very distasteful business 
— the guillotine. 

ALFRED. He doesn't deserve to live. 

JOSEPH. That isn't the issue. The issue 
is : Do we deserve to live ? The answer, 
in my slightly prejudiced opinion, is : yes. 

JULES. At least we want to — even in 
solitary. 

ALFRED. I'll do it all by myself. You 
won't be involved. 

JOSEPH. They won't believe you. 

JULES. And even if they did — we don't 
want to lose you. We belong together — 
we three. 

ALFRED. All our work down the drain ! 

JULES. We tried. 

JOSEPH. We failed. We've learned 
that virtue is not its own reward. 

JULES, And that good does not always 
triumph over evil ! 

JOSEPH. For us, Christmas is over. We 
pack away the tinsel — store the tree — 
sweep away the debris — and complain 
vaguely of indigestion. 
(Paul enters quickly, holding his hand.) 

PAUL. Call a doctor. Quick ! 

JULES. What's the matter? 

PAUL. For Heaven's sake! 

JOSEPH. What's wrong? 

PAUL. I've just been bitten by a snake ! 

JOSEPH. What'd you say? 

JULES. He said he'd just been bitten 
by a snake. 

ALFRED (beaming) . How? Where? 

PAUL. What does it matter? It hurts! 
A doctor! 

JOSEPH (going to him). Was it a little 
snake ? 

PAUL. Yes . . . 

JOSEPH (quickly). On the floor? 

PAUL. No. 

JOSEPH (more quickly). On the bed? 

PAUL. No! 

JOSEPH. On the dresser? 

PAUL. No! 

JOSEPH. On the ceiling? 



MY THREE ANGELS 



197 



PAUL. No ! In his trousers — in the 
pocket ! 

JOSEPH. What were you doing with 
your hand in your uncle's pocket? 

JULES. He was taking inventory! 
(Alfred and Jules laugh . During the following y 
PauVs pain and discomfort increase.) 

JOSEPH. This is no laughing matter. 
The young man's shown admirable 
industry — and thrift. His uncle may have 
had cash stowed away in his pockets — pos- 
sibly only a few sous — rich men gener- 
ally pride themselves on never carrying 
cash so that others will always pay their 
dinner checks, their cab fares, their tips — 
but the young man overlooks nothing ! 

PAUL. I want a doctor! 

JOSEPH. Why waste your money? 

PAUL. I don't feel well. 
(Joseph, Jules and Alfred in a whispered 
conference. J 

JOSEPH. Damn nuisance to have him 
die in here. 

JULES. Of course. Marie Louise'll be 
back soon. Imagine the shock. We've got 
to prepare her — and the family . . . 

PAUL. What are you talking about? 
(Starts toward shop entrance. Grabs on to 
ladder for support) I want a doctor, I tell 
you. 

JOSEPH. I have it. The garden ! Let him 
die in the garden. 
(Alfed goes to door of Henries room.) 

JULES. Good. We'll take him to the 
bench. 

JOSEPH. Yes, the bench — the same 
bench as last night . . . 
(Joseph and Jules walk Paul to the gate.) 

PAUL. You're always sending me to 
that damn bench ! 

(The three exit into garden. Alfred, with the 
coconut cage, goes into Henries room. Marie 
Louise enters from the shop. She looks about. 
Alfred reappears. Lie hides the cage behind 
him.) 

MARIE LOUISE. Oh, you're still here. 

ALFRED. Yes . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. Where 's Paul? 

ALFRED. Oh, here and there . . . 

MARIE LOUISE. Is he — vciy upset? 

ALFRED. Well, yes. I should say that 
Paul is very upset. 

MARIE LOUISE. I met Father coming 
out of church. He told me. 



ALFRED. Told you? 

MARIE LOUISE. Don't you know — 
about Uncle Henri? 

ALFRED. Oh, that one! Yes. 

MARIE LOUISE. How awful ! 

ALFRED. I don't see why you should 
go into mourning — considering. 

MARIE LOUISE. You don't understand. 
I said : How awful — because I should feel 
sorry, and I don't. Why are you staring 
at me? 

ALFRED. Staring? No. I was just think- 
ing of what you just said. (Joseph and Jules 
enter from garden) You know, you might 
think you're losing something, when 
you're really not. Sometimes you can be 
in love with something that doesn't even 
exist. 

MARIE LOUISE. Well . . . ( Looks to Joseph 
and Jules for help) 

MARIE LOUISE. What's happened? 
Where's Paul? Are you trying to hint 
he — he doesn't love me? Is that it? Now 
that he's free, he doesn't want me. Is 
that it ? 

JOSEPH. He wants — and loves you 
madly. 

JULES. As much as you love him. 

JOSEPH. He said something to us this 
morning that you should know. 

MARIE LOUISE. What? 

JOSEPH. He said: "Gentlemen," he 
said, "death has made me free to marry 
my adorable Marie Louise, and only death 
can part us now." 

MARIE LOUISE. He Said that? 

JULES. Even more eloquently. 

JOSEPH. If that's conceivable. He 
said — and these were his very words : 
"She doesn't realize how shy 1 am. How 
can I tell her nothing in this world mat- 
ters as much to me as her love ? Ambition ? 
Wealth? Pouf!" 

JULES (snaps fingers) . "For her," he 
said, "I'd dig ditches ..." 

JOSEPH. "Or pick pockets ..." 

JULES. Yes. 

MARIE LOUISE. This is amazing. He's so 
reserved — ^generally — and he confided in 
you. 

JOSEPH. The shock of his uncle's death 
— you know. He had to talk to someone. 

MARIE LOUISE. And I wasn't here. 
Where is he? 



198 



SAM AND BELLA SPEWACK 



JULES. I think he's with your mother. 
MARIE LOUISE. Excuse me . . . (She 
exits J 

ALFRED (puts the Cage on bureau) . 
What's the idea? 

JULES. It's a civihzed custom to praise 
the dead. It helps the living. 

JOSEPH. We wanted to give her a me- 
moriaL She'll need one. 

JULES. Time will heal the wound. Let 
her at least cherish a memory. 

JOSEPH. She's young. Someone'll come 
along. Someone always does. 

JULES. It won't be you, Alfred, unfor- 
tunately. It could have been. It'll be 
someone else. 

JOSEPH. The bell will ring — and there 
he'll be. 

JULES. She won't love him as much as 
the mythical Paul — but she'll love him 
enough. 

(Shop doorbell rings. The three start. Joseph 
rises, moves to Alfred. But it is Felix who 
enters, hangs up hat.) 

FELIX, what a time I've had. The doc- 
tor '11 be along soon. 

JOSEPH. Good. He has his work cut 
out for him. 

FELIX. My wife still in her room? 
JULES. Yes. 

FELIX. I thought last night I'd be 
spending an entirely different kind of 
Christmas. Life is strange. 
JULES. Isn't it? 

FELIX (cheerfully). Things work out 
somehow . . . (Stops) What am I saying? 
(Guiltily) I've got to see my wife. (Exits) 
ALFRED. Well, back to the roof! 
JULES. I guess so. 

JOSEPH. It's too much to ask destiny 
to send along the young man we're wait- 
ing for at this precise moment. Still it 
would have been neater somehow. (The 
shop hell rings. They look at each other, then 
step up toward the shop entrance, stop and 
wait. An extremely handsome young man in 
white naval unijorm enters. They stare at him) 
Yes? 

LIEUTENANT. I beg your pardon, but 
there was no one in the shop. This is M. 
Ducotel's, isn't it? 
JULES. It is. 

LIEUTENANT. I suppose you work for 
him. 



JOSEPH. We do. 

LIEUTENANT. I've just landed, and I 
have a letter of introduction from friends 
in Cherbourg. May I see him? 

JOSEPH. Forgive a question, sir. Are 
you married? 

LIEUTENANT. I beg your pardon? 

ALFRED. Well, are you? 

LIEUTENANT. No. Why? 

JULES. We were just wondering. 

JOSEPH. You'll have to make certain 
allowances — have little patience — You've 
chosen a rather peculiar time to appear. 

LIEUTENANT. Peculiar? 

JOSEPH. There's been a death here . . . 

JULES. Two, in fact . . . 

LIEUTENANT. I'm sorry to hear that. 

JOSEPH. You needn't be. 

LIEUTENANT. Perhaps I could come 
back later. 

JOSEPH. Oh, no, no. Don't move. 

JULES. Life's too short. Have a chair. 

LIEUTENANT. But . . . 

JOSEPH. Sit down, sir. 
(The Lieutenant moves toward the chair. 
Marie Louise enters and as she moves toward 
the garden comes face to face with the young 
man.) 

MARIE LOUISE (seeing stranger) . Pardon 
me . . . (Crosses to gate below table. The 
Lieutenant turns to watch her) Why didn't 
you tell me Paul was in the garden ? There 
he is. He's sitting out there on the bench. 
He looks as if he's fallen asleep. (Turns 
to the three convicts) waiting for me . . . 

JOSEPH. It's nice to know someone's 
waiting for you. (Looks at Lieutenant) 

MARIE LOUISE (smiles). Yes. (She exits 
to garden) 

LIEUTENANT. Was that Mademoiselle 
Ducotel ? 

JOSEPH. Uhuh. 

LIEUTENANT. Shc's charming! 

ALFRED (turns to him). Yes, she is. 

JOSEPH, You're charming, too. 

LIEUTENANT. I beg youT pardon? 

JOSEPH. You even look intelligent, 
which is more than we'd hoped for. 
(The harmonica is heard playing in the 
garden.) 

LIEUTENANT. Well, now, really! 

JULES. Sit dowTi. Relax. Close your 
eyes. You've got nothing to do — except 
wait. 



MY THREE ANGELS 



199 



f Alfred picks up his hat at foot of ladder then 
goes to bureau.) 

LIEUTENANT. If I closed my eyes, I'd 
be asleep in a minute. I was up all night 
on the ship. 

JOSEPH. Well, then, sleep, sir. Sleep. 
(Harmonica more distinct) There's your 
lullaby. 

(Lieutenant closes his eyes. Jules gets his hat 
from box, Joseph gets his from table under the 
mirror^ and both move to ladder. When there^ 
the three turn back for one last look at the 
sleeping Lieutenant. Felix enters^ followed by 
Emilie.) 

FELIX (staring) . Who's he? 

JOSEPH. The future. 
(Marie Louise^ s cry is heard.) 



EMILIE. Marie Louise ! (Moves toward 
garden y exits y followed by Felix) 

JOSEPH. She's found happiness — and 
doesn't know it. She's only twenty, and 
she doesn't realize happiness wears many 
disguises. (Looks at Lieutenant ^ who hasnt 
stirred) 

ALFRED (picks up cage from bureau). 
Come, Adolphe. 

JOSEPH (staring up the ladder). Well, 
Your Honor, didn't we have a wonder- 
ful Christmas? 

JULES. Yes, we did. 

JOSEP. Let's do it again next year. 

The three angels climb up the ladder as 



THE CURTAIN FALLS 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX's 

Ondine 



In the adaptation by Maurice Valency 



First presented by the Playwrights' Company at the Forty-Sixth Street Theatre, 
New York, on February i8, 195^4, with the following cast: 



AUGUSTE John Alexander 

EUGENIE Edith King 

RITTER HANS Mel Ferrer 

ONDINE Audrey Hepburn 

THE ONDINES, Dran Seitz, Tani Seitz, Sonia Torgeson 

THE OLD ONE Robert Middleton 

THE LORD CHAMBERLAIN Alan Hewitt 

THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE THEATRE Lloyd Gough 

THE TRAINER OF SEALS James Lanphier 

BERTHA Marian Seldes 

BERTRAM Peter Brandon 

viOLANTE Anne Meacham 

ANGELiQUE Gaye Jordan 

VENUS Jan Sherwood 



MATHO Barry O'Hara 

SALAMMBO Lily Paget 

A LORD William Le Massena 

A LADY Stacy Graham 

THE ILLUSIONIST (the OLD one) Robert Middleton 

THE KING William Podmore 

A SERVANT James Lanphier 

THE FIRST FISHERMAN Lloyd GoUgh 

THE SECOND FISHERMAN (tHE OLD ONE) 

Robert Middleton 

THE FIRST JUDGE Alan Hewitt 

THE SECOND JUDGE William Le Massena 

THE EXECUTIONER Robert Crawley 

THE KITCHEN MAID Stacy Graham 



Directed by Alfred Lunt 

Settings by Peter Larkin 

Costumes by Richard Whorf 

Lighting by Jean Rosenthal 

Music by Virgil Thomson 



© '9Si» 19^3. I9S4. by Maurice Valency 

(Under the title Ondine by Jean Giraudoux, English version by Maurice Valency) 

Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc. 



CAUTION : Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that Ondine, being fully protected under 
the copyright laws of the United States, the British Empire including the Dominion of Canada, and all 
other countries of the Copyright Union, is subject to royalty. All rights including professional, amateur, 
motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, and the rights 
of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid on the question of 
readings, permission for which must be obtained in writing from the author's representative. All inquiries 
should be addressed to the author's representative. Miss Audrey Wood, Music Corporation of America 
Management, Ltd., ^98 Madison Ave, New York 22, N.Y. 



ONDINE 
ACT ONE 



2oi 



A Jisherman^ s hut near a lake in the forest. 
The living room has a fireplace^ a door that 
leads into the kitchen, and a door that leads 
out into thejorest. The windows are shuttered. 
There is a table near the Jireplace, with a 
bench next to it and a heavy wooden chair next 
to the Jire, which is blazing. It is night. A 
storm is raging. 

Two old people, Auguste and Eugenie, are 
in the room. Eugenie is setting the table. 
Auguste is at the window. He has opened the 
shutters and is peering out into the storm. 



AUGUSTE. What can she be doing out 
there at this hour ? 

• EUGENIE. Don't worry about her. She 
can see in the dark. 

AUGUSTE. In this storm ! 

EUGENIE. She's quite safe. The rain 
doesn't wet her. 

AUGUSTE. She's singing. Is it she that's 
singing? You think that's her voice? 

EUGENIE. Whose else? There is no 
other house within twenty leagues. 

AUGUSTE. Now it comes from the top 
of the waterfall and now from the middle 
of the lake. 

EUGENIE. Because now she's on top of 
the waterfall and now in the middle of 
the lake. 

AUGUSTE. It's all so simple, isn't it? 
But did you, by any chance, ever amuse 
yourself by diving down the waterfalls in 
the nude when you were her age ? 

EUGENIE. Yes. Once. They fished me 
out by the feet. Every girl tries just once 
to do what Ondine does fifty times a day. 
I jumped into the whirlpool once, and I 
tried to catch the waterfall once in a 
bowl, and once I tried to walk on the 
water. It seems very long ago. 

AUGUSTE. You've spoiled her, Eugenie. 
A girl of sixteen has no business running 
around in the forest in the dark in a storm. 
A well brought-up girl does not insist on 
doing her sewing on the brink of a 
waterfall. She doesn't insist on saying her 
prayers under water. Where would we be 
today if you had been brought up like that ? 

EUGENIE. She's very helpful with the 
housework. 



AUGUSTE. That brings up another 
question. 

EUGENIE. Doesn't she wash the dishes ? 
Doesn't she clean your boots? 

AUGUSTE. I don't know. Does she? 

EUGENIE. It's not clean, this dish? 

AUGUSTE. That's not the point. Have 
you ever, in all her life, seen her cleaning 
or washing anything? 

EUGENIE . What difference does it make 
whether or not I've seen her? She gets 
it done. 

AUGUSTE. Yes. But explain this — three 
dishes or twelve, one shoe or eight, it 
takes her exactly the same time to do 
them. She takes them out; she's hardly 
gone a minute, and she's back. The 
dishcloth is dry. The shoe polish hasn't 
been used. But everything is clean, 
everything sparkles. And that affair of the 
golden plates on her birthday — did you 
ever get to the bottom of that ? And her 
hands. Why are they never soiled, like 
anyone else's? 

EUGENIE. Because she's not like anyone 
else. She's never been like anyone else. 

AUGUSTE. Today she lifted the gate of 
the trout pond. All the trout are gone. 
All but the one I brought home for 
supper. Are you going to broil it? (The 
windows spring open suddenly) Who did 
that? 

EUGENIE. The wind, Auguste. 

AUGUSTE. I hope she doesn't start that 
performance again with the lightning, and 
those horrible heads that peer in at the 
window out of the storm. The old man 
with the crown — oh ! 

EUGENIE. I love the woman with the 
pearls. Well, bar the window if you're 
afraid. 

(Auguste crosses to close the windows. There is 
a fiash of lightning. The head of an old man 
with a crown and a streaming beard appears in 
the window frame.) 

THE HEAD. No usc, Auguste. No lock 
so strong, no bar so stout will serve to 
keep the old one out! (He vanishes, 
laughing, in a clap of thunder) 

AUGUSTE. I'll show you if it's too 
late, Ondine. (He closes the window. It 
immediately bursts open. There appears, in 



2o2 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



another lightning Jlash^ a charming naiades 
head with a necklace of pearls) 

THE NAIAD. Good evening, Eugenie! 
(It vanishes) 

EUGENIE. Ondine, you're annoying 
your father. It's time to come in. 

AUGUSTE. Ondine, I'm going to count 
up to three. If you're not inside when I 
finish, I'll bolt the door. And you can 
sleep out. 
(There is a roar oj thunder.) 

EUGENIE. You're not serious? 

AUGUSTE. You'll see if I'm serious. 
Ondine, one ! 
(A roar oJ thunder.) 

EUGENIE. Stop it, Auguste. It's 
deafening. 

AUGUSTE. Am I doing it? 

EUGENIE. Well, then, hurry. We all 
know you can count up to three. 

AUGUSTE. Ondine, two ! 
(Thunder. Eugenie covers her ears.) 

EUGENIE. Really, Auguste, I don't see 
the use — 

AUGUSTE. Ondine, three ! 

EUGENIE (waiting Jor the thunder) . Well, 
well, finish, Auguste, finish — 
(There is no thunder.) 

AUGUSTE. I've finished. (He holts the 
door) There. I'd like to see anyone come 
in now. 

(The door springs open. They turn in terror. A 
knight in full armor stands on the threshold. 
He holds his helmet under his arm.) 

RITTER HANS (clicking his heels) . Ritter 
Hans von Wittenstein zu Wittenstein. 

AUGUSTE (hows) . My name is Auguste. 
I am a fisherman. 

RITTER HANS. I took the liberty of 
putting my horse in your shed. The horse, 
as we know, is the most important part 
of the knight-errant. And the most 
sensitive. 

AUGUSiE. I'll go and rub him down at 
once, my lord. 

HANS. Thanks very much. I've already 
done it. I make it an invariable rule, away 
from home, to rub down my horse myself. 
In these parts, you rub horses down 
Swabian fashion, against the grain — the 
coat soon loses its luster. May I sit down? 

AUGUSTE. The house is yours, my lord. 

HANS (sets down his helmet and puts by his 
sword) . What a storm ! The water has 



been running dowoi my neck steadily 
since noon. Of course it doesn't stay. It 
runs out again through the blood gutters. 
But once it gets in, the damage is done. 
(He sits down ponderously ) That's what we 
fear most, we knightserrant, the rain. 
The water. And, of course, a flea. Once 
a flea gets in here — 

AUGUSTE. Would you care to remove 
your armor, my lord? 

HANS. My dear Auguste, have you ever 
watched a lobster shed his carapace ? Then 
you know it's not the affair of a moment. 
I will rest first. You said your name was 
Auguste, I believe? 

AUGUSTE. And my wife, Eugenie. 

HANS (bows to Eugenie). Ah. Auguste 
and Eugenie. Charming names. 

EUGENIE. Excuse them, my lord. They 
are not names for knights-errant. 

HANS. Dear Eugenie, when a 
knight-errant has spent a month in the 
forest, searching in vain for Osmond and 
Pharamond, you cannot imagine his joy 
when he comes suddenly at dinner time 
upon Auguste and Eugenie. 

EUGENIE. Thank you, my lord. It's 
ill-mannered, I know, to annoy a guest 
with questions, but perhaps you will 
forgive this one: are you hungry? 

HANS. I am hungry. I am extremely 
hungry. It will give me great pleasure to 
share your meal. 

EUGENIE. We have already supped, my 
lord. But there is a trout. Would you 
honor us by eating it? 

HANS. With the greatest pleasure. 

EUGENIE. Would you like it broiled or 
fried? 

HANS. Poached, if you please. 
(Auguste and Eugenie make a gesture ojjear.) 

EUGENIE. Poached? I really do them 
best sautee, meuniere^ with a little white 
butter. It's very good. 

HANS. Since you ask my preference — 

AUGUSTE. Gratinee, perhaps with fresh 
cream? Eugenie's specialty. 

HANS. When we say poached — that's 
when the fish is thrown into the boiling 
water alive ? 

EUGENIE. Yes. Alive. 

HANS. So that the fish retains all its 
tenderness because the heat takes it by 
surprise ? 



ONDINE 



203 



AUGUSTE. Surprise is the word, my 
lord. 

HANS. Then that's it. I'll have it 
poached. 

EUGENIE (walks slowly to the kitchen. She 
turns at the door). Broiled, they're very 
nice, w^ith a slice of lemon — 

HANS. Poached, if you please. (Eugenie 
goes into the kitchen. Hans makes himself 
comfortable in the chair by the fireside) I'm 
happy to see, Auguste, that knights-errant 
are not unw^elcome in these parts . . . ? 

AUGUSTE. Much more v^elcome than 
armies, my lord. When the w^inter is 
over, the robins come ; when the wars are 
over, the knights. A knight-errant is a 
sign of peace. 

HANS. I love war. 

AUGUSTE. Each to his taste, my lord. 

HANS. Don't misunderstand me. 
(Expansively) If I love war, it's because 
by nature I'm a friendly person. I love 
company. Now in a war, you always have 
someone to talk to. If your comrades 
don't feel like chatting, there's always 
the enemy — you can always get yourself 
a prisoner. He shows you his wife's 
picture. You tell him about your sister. 
That's what I call living. But a knight- 
errant . . . ! Would you believe it, in all 
the time I've spent riding about this 
enchanted forest, I haven't so much as 
heard a human voice. 

AUGUSTE. But isn't it true that knights- 
errant can understand the language of 
animals ? 

HANS. Ah, yes, that's true enough — 
they speak to us, the animals. And we 
understand them very well. But it's not 
quite what you think, the language of 
animals. For us every animal is a symbol, 
naturally, and its message is written 
indelibly on our souls. But that's it, you 
see, the animals write — they don't speak. 

AUGUSTE. They don't speak? 

HANS. They speak without speaking. 
What they say is important, of course. 
The stag speaks to us of nobility. The 
unicorn, of chastity. The lion, of courage. 
It's stimulating — but you don't call that a 
conversation. 

AUGUSTE. But the birds . . . ? 

HANS. To tell you the truth, Auguste, 
I'm a little disappointed in the birds. They 



chatter incessantly. But they're not good 
listeners. They're always preaching. 

AUGUSTE . That surprises me . Especially 
with the lark. I should have thought that 
the lark would love to confide in one. 

HANS. The knight's headgear does not 
permit him to converse with larks. 

AUGUSTE. But what sent you, if I may 
ask, into the black forest? 

HANS . What do you suppose ? A woman . 

AUGUSTE. I ask no more questions, my 
lord. 

HANS. Please, Auguste ! It's thirty days 
since I've said a word about her to a 
living soul. No, no, ask me questions. 
Ask me anything. Ask me her name. 

AUGUSTE. My lord — I wouldn't dare. 

HANS. Ask me. Ask me. 

AUGUSTE. What is her name, my lord? 

HANS. Bertha. Bertha! Tell me, 
fisherman, have you ever heard such a 
beautiful name ? Bertha ! 

AUGUSTE. It's beautiful, my lord. 

HANS. There are those who are called 
Angelique, Diane, Violante. Anybody can 
be called Angelique, Diane, Violante. 
But she alone deserves a name so solemn, 
vibrating, passionate : Bertha ! (Eugenie 
comes in with a loaf of bread) And now, 
Eugenie, you will ask me is she beautiful? 

EUGENIE. Is she beautiful? 

AUGUSTE. We are speaking of Bertha, 
the Princess Bertha, Eugenie. 

EUGENIE. Ah, yes, of course. And is 
she beautiful? 

HANS. Eugenie, it is I who am entrusted 
with the purchase of horses for the king. 
You understand, then, my eye is sharp. 
No blemish, however slight, ever escapes 
me. The Angelique in question is not bad, 
but she has a ridge in her left thumbnail. 
Violante has a fleck of gold in her eye. 
Bertha is flawless. 

AUGUSTE. That must be a lovely thing 
to see, a fleck of gold in a woman's eye. 

EUGENIE. Stick to your fishing, 
Auguste. 

HANS. A fleck of gold? Don't deceive 
yourself, my dear fellow. That might 
amuse you, a thing like that, two days at 
the most — 

AUGUSTE. What is it like, exactly? 

HANS. Well, it sparkles. 

AUGUSTE. Like a grain of mica ? 



2o4 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



EUGENIE. Come, Auguste — you're 
getting on our nerves with your gold and 
your mica. Let the knight speak. 

HANS. Yes, my dear Auguste, why this 
sudden partiaHty for Violante? Violante, 
when she joins with us in the hunt, 
crowns a white mare. And it's a pretty 
sight, a red-headed girl on a white mare, 
there's no denying it. And Violante, when 
she brings the queen the three-branched 
candlestick, always bears it high in both 
hands, like the celebrant approaching the 
altar. But Violante, when the old Duke 
takes her hand and tells her a spicy story, 
never laughs. She cries. 

AUGUSTE. Violante cries? 

HANS. 1 know. You are going to ask me 
what happens to these flecks of gold when 
they are drowned in tears — 

EUGENIE. He's surely thinking of it, 
my lord. Once he gets his mind on 
anything . . . ! 

HANS. Yes, he will think of it till the 
day when he sees Bertha. For you shall 
certainly come to our wedding, both of 
you. You are invited. The condition 
Bertha made to our marriage was that I 
should come back alive after spending a 
month in the forest. And if 1 do come 
back, it will be thanks to you, my friends. 
And so, you shall see your Violante, 
fisherman, with her little red mouth and 
her pink ears and her little straight nose, 
you shall see what effect she makes next 
to my great dark angel ! And now, fetch 
me my poached trout, Eugenie, or it will 
be overdone. 

(The door opens slowly. Ondine appears on the 
threshold. She stands there motionless for a 
moment. J 

AUGUSTE. Ondine! 

ONDINE. How beautiful he is ! 

AUGUSTE. What did she say ? 

ONDINE. I said, how beautiful he is ! 

AUGUSTE. It is our daughter, my lord. 
She has no manners. 

ONDINE. It's thrilling to know that 
men are so beautiful. My heart is racing. 

AUGUSTE. Will you keep still? 

ONDINE. I'm trembling from head to 



reason for being a girl. The reason is that 
men are so beautiful. 

AUGUSTE. You are embarrassing our 
guest, Ondine. 

ONDINE. I'm not embarrassing him. 
He likes me. What's your name? 

AUGUSTE. That's not the way to speak 
to a knight, my child. 

ONDINE (coming closer J . Look at his 
ear, Father. It's a perfect little shell. Do 
you expect me to treat it like a stranger? 
To whom do you belong, little shell? 
What is his name? 

HANS. His name is Hans. 

ONDINE. I should have guessed it. 
When people are happy and they open 
their mouths, they say Hans. 

HANS. Hans von Wittenstein. 

ONDINE. When there is sun in the 
morning, and the cloud of sadness lifts 
from your soul, when you sigh, you say 
Hans. 

HANS. Hans von Wittenstein zu 
Wittenstein. 

ONDINE. How lovely when a name 
makes its own echo ! Why have you come, 



Hans? To take me 



away 



foot. 

AUGUSTE. 
ONDINE. 



She's only sixteen, my lord. 
I knew there must be some 



AUGUSTE. That will do, Ondine. Go to 
your room now. 

ONDINE. Very well, take me. Take me 
with you. 
(Eugenie comes in with the trout on a platter. J 

EUGENIE. Here is your trout, my lord. 

ONDINE. His trout! 

HANS. It looks magnificent. 

ONDINE. You dared to poach a trout. 
Mother? 

EUGENIE. Be quiet. In any case, it's 
done. 

ONDINE. Oh, my poor darling trout! 
You who loved the cold water ! What have 
they done to you? 

AUGUSTE. You're not going to make a 
scene before our guest, Ondine ? 

ONDINE. They caught you — and they 
quenched your life in boiling water ! 

HANS. It was I, my girl, who asked 
them to. 

ONDINE. You? I should have known. 
When one looks closely at your face, it 
all becomes clear. You're not very bright, 
are you? No. You are stupid. 

EUGENIE. She doesn't know what she's 
saying, my lord. 



ONDINE 



log 



ONDINE. That's chivalry! That's 
courage ! You run about looking for giants 
who don't exist, and when you come 
upon a little joyous creature springing in 
the clear water, you boil it alive. 

HANS. And I eat it. And I find it 
delicious. 

ONDINE. You shall see how delicious it 
is ! (She snatches up the dish and throws it out 
of the window) Now eat it! (She runs to the 
door. J 

AUGUSTE. Ondine ! 

EUGENIE, where are you going, child? 

ONDINE. There is someone out there 
who knows about men. So far I have 
refused to listen to him. Now that's over. 
I shall listen. 

AUGUSTE. Ondine ! 

ONDINE. In a moment, I shall know. I 
shall know what they are, what they do, 
what they become. And so much the 
worse for you ! 

AUGUSTE. You're not going out. 
(She springs aside. J 

ONDINE. I already know that they lie, 
that their beauty is ugliness, that their 
courage is cowardice. And I already know 
that I hate them. 

HANS . And they already know that they 
love you. 

ONDINE (stops at the door^ without 
turning) . What did he say ? 

HANS. Nothing. 

ONDINE. Say it once more, just to see. 

HANS. They already know that they 
love you. 

ONDINE. I hate them! (She runs out 
into the darkness.) 

HANS. My compliments. You've 
brought her up well. 

AUGUSTE. God knows I scold her often 
enough. 

HANS. You should beat her. 

EUGENIE. Beat her? Try and catch her. 

HANS. You should send her to bed 
without supper. 

AUGUSTE. What good would that do? 
She's never hungry. 

HANS. I'm starved. 

AUGUSTE. That was the last of the 
trout, my lord. But we have smoked a 
ham. Eugenie will go down and cut you 
some slices. 



HANS. Then she permits you to kill her 
poor darling pigs ? 

AUGUSTE. She has no interest in pigs. 

HANS. That's a mercy. 
(Eugenie goes out for the ham.) 

AUGUSTE. You are annoyed with the 
girl, my lord. 

HANS. I'm annoyed because I'm vain 
just as she said. When she said I was 
handsome, though I know I'm not 
handsome, I was pleased. And when she 
said I was a coward, though I know I'm 
no coward, I was hurt. I'm annoyed with 
myself. 

AUGUSTE. You're very kind to take it 
so well. 

HANS. Oh, I don't take it well at all. 
I'm furious. 
(Eugenie comes in.) 

EUGENIE. Where is the ham, Auguste? 
I can't find it. 

AUGUSTE. The ham? Why, the ham is 
hanging in the cellar. Excuse me, my lord, 
I'll go and get it. 

(He goes out with Eugenie. Hans turns to the 
fire and warms his hands. Ondine comes in 
noiselessly and stands just behind him. He 
doesnt hear her till she speaks.) 

ONDINE. My name is Ondine. 

HANS (without turning). It's a pretty 
name. 

ONDINE. Hans and Ondine. There are 
no more beautiful names in the world, 
are there ? 

HANS. Yes. Ondine and Hans. 

ONDINE. Oh no. Hans first. He is the 
man. He commands. Ondine is the girl. 
She is always one step behind. She keeps 
quiet. 

HANS. She keeps quiet? Now how the 
devil does she manage that? 

ONDINE. Hans is always one step ahead. 
In the processions — before the king — 
before all the world, he goes first. He is 
the first to age. He is the first to die. It's 
terrible ! But Ondine follows at once. She 
kills herself. 

HANS. What are you talking about? 

ONDINE. There is the little moment of 
agony to live through. The moment that 
comes after the death of Hans. But it is 
short. 

HANS. At your age, luckily, it doesn't 
mean much to talk about death. 



2o6 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



ONDINE. At my age? Is that what you 
think? Very well, try — (She pulls his dagger 
from its sheath) Here, kill yourself. You'll 
see if I am not dead the next moment. 

HANS (takes the dagger from her hand) . 
I never felt less like killing myself. 

ONDINE. Say you don't love me. You'll 
see if I don't die. 

HANS. Fifteen minutes ago, you didn't 
even know I existed. And now you want 
to kill yourself on my account. I thought 
we had quarreled on account of the trout. 

ONDINE. Oh, I can't be bothered with 
the trout. They're not very clever, the 
trout. If they don't like to be caught, all 
they have to do is to keep away from men. 
It's different with me. I want to be caught. 

HANS. In spite of your mysterious 
friend outside? 

ONDINE. I learned nothing from him 
that I didn't already know. 

HANS. Naturally not. You asked the 
questions. You gave the answers. 

ONDINE. Don't joke. He's very near. 
And he's very dangerous. 

HANS. Who? 

ONDINE. The Old One. 

HANS. The Old One? 

ONDINE. The King of the Sea. I'm 
afraid, Hans. 

HANS (smiles). You're afraid of what? 

ONDINE. I'm afraid you will deceive 
me. That's what he said. He also said you 
were not handsome. But you are ! 

HANS. Do you know that you're 
beautiful ? 

ONDINE. No, I don't know it yet. I 
would prefer to be beautiful. But I can be 
beautiful only if you love me. 

HANS. You're a little liar. You were 
just as beautiful a moment ago when you 
hated me. Is that all he told you? 

ONDINE. He said that if ever I kissed 
you, I would be lost. That was silly of 
him. I hadn't even thought of it till then. 

HANS. And now you are thinking of it? 

ONDINE. Very much. 

HANS. Well, there is no harm in 
thinking. 

ONDINE. Oh no. It's good to think 
about it. Of course, in the end I shall do 
it. But first we shall wait a long time, as 
long as possible. We shall wait an hour. 
Then in after years we shall have this hour 



always to remember. The hour before 
you kissed me. 

HANS. My little Ondine — 

ONDINE. The hour before you said you 
loved me. Hans, I can't w^ait an hour. 
There isn't time. Tell me now. 

HANS. You think that's something one 
says — ^just like that? 

ONDINE. No? Well, then speak, 
command. What must I do? What is the 
appropriate posture? Do I sit in your lap, 
is that it? 

HANS. In my lap in full armor? 

ONDINE. Oh. Take it off quickly. 

HANS. Do you know what you're 
saying? It takes me fifteen minutes to 
unbolt the shoulder-plates alone. 

ONDINE. I have a vv^ay of removing 
armor. 
(The armor falls to the floor.) 

HANS. Well! 

ONDINE. Sit down. (He sits. She springs 
into his lap) 

HANS. You're mad, Ondine! 

ONDINE. Yes. That's what he said. 

HANS. And my arms — do you think 
they open to the first comer? 

ONDINE. I have a way of opening 
arms — 

(Hans opens his arms, with an expression of 
surprise.) 

And of closing them. 

(He closes them. A woman^s voice is heard 
outside the window.) 

THE VOICE. Ondine! 

ONDINE (turns furiously to the window). 
No ! Go away. Nobody called you. 

THE VOICE. Ondine ! Be careful ! 

ONDINE. Do I meddle in your affairs? 
Did you consult me about your husband? 

THE VOICE. Ondine! 

ONDINE. A fine handsome husband you 
found yourself, wasn't it? A seal with 
nostrils like rabbit holes and no nose. He 
gave you a string of pearls and you were 
his. And not even matched pearls. 

HANS. To whom are you speaking, 
Ondine ? 

ONDINE. Oh, one of the neighbors. 

HANS. But I saw no other house in the 
forest. Do you have neighbors? 

ONDINE. Thousands. And all jealous. 

A SECOND VOICE. Ondine ! Be careful ! 

ONDINE. Oh, you're a fine one to 



ONDINE 



207 



speak! You were careful, weren't you? A 
narwhal dazzled you with his jet of water, 
and you gave yourself to him without a 
word. 

THE SECOND VOICE. Ondine ! 

HANS. Their voices are charming. 

ONDINE. My name is charming, not 
their voices. Kiss me, Hans. Kiss me. 

A man's VOICE. Ondine! 

ONDINE. It's too late, Old One. Let 
me alone. 

HANS. Is that the friend? 

ONDINE. I'm sitting in his lap. He loves 
me. 

THE man's VOICE. Ondine! 

ONDINE. It's too late, I say. It's finished. 
I'm already his mistress. Yes, his mistress. 
You don't understand? That's another 
word they have for wife. 
f There is a noise at the kitchen door.) 

HANS (pushing Ondine gently from his lap J . 
That's your father, Ondine. 

ONDINE. Oh. I didn't think I had 
taught you that ? 

HANS. What? 

ONDINE. My way of opening arms. 
( Auguste and Eugenie come in.) 

EUGENIE. Your supper is almost ready, 
my lord. 

AUGUSTE. I can't imagine who put the 
ham in the attic. 

ONDINE. I did. So I could be alone with 
Hans. 

AUGUSTE. Ondine! Have you no 
shame ? 

ONDINE. I've not wasted my time. 
He's going to marry me. 

AUGUSTE. You might help your mother 
with the table instead of talking nonsense. 

ONDINE. You're right. Give me the 
silver, Mother. From now on, it's I who 
will serve Hans. 

AUGUSTE. I brought up a bottle of 
wine, my lord. If you permit, we shall 
drink a glass with you. The glasses, 
Ondine. 

ONDINE. You will have to teach me 
everything, my lord Hans. From morning 
to night, I shall be your handmaid. In the 
morning I shall wake you . . . 

HANS. You won't find that easy. I sleep 
very soundly. 

ONDINE (sits down next to him and looks 



at him closely). Tell me, what does one 

do to awaken you? 

(Eugenie comes out with a platter.) 

EUGENIE. The glasses, Ondine. 

ONDINE. Oh Mother, you set the table. 
Hans is teaching me how to awaken him. 
Let's see, Hans. Make believe you're 
asleep. 

HANS. With this wonderful odor of 
cooking? Out of the question. 

ONDINE. Wake up, little Hans. It's 
dawn. Take this kiss in your darkness and 
this in your day . . . 

HANS (accepting a slice of ham) . Thank 
you. 

AUGUSTE. Pay no attention to the 
child, my lord. She doesn't know what 
she is saying. 

ONDINE. I love you. 

EUGENIE. She's young. She becomes 
attached. It's nothing. 

ONDINE. I love you, Hans. 

HANS (eating) . This is what I call ham ! 

AUGUSTE. It's smoked with juniper. 

HANS. Marvelous. 

ONDINE. It was a mistake to awaken 
you, Hans. We should never awaken the 
man we love. In his sleep, he's ours 
completely. But the moment he opens 
his eyes, he escapes. Sleep again, little 
Hans — 

HANS (accepting another slice). Yes, 
thank you. Simply wonderful. 

ONDINE. You don't want to be loved, 
you want to be stuffed. 

HANS. Everything in its place, my dear. 

EUGENIE. Ah, you'd make a fine wife, 
you would! 

ONDINE. I? 

AUGUSTE. Silence, Ondine. I want to 
say a word. (He lifts his glass) 

ONDINE. I shall certainly make a fine 
wife. You think you're a wife because you 
know how to cook a ham? That's not 
being a wife. 

HANS. No? What else is it? 
^ ONDINE. It's to be everything your 
husband is and everything he loves. It's 
to be the humblest part of him and the 
noblest. I shall be the shoes on your feet, 
my husband . I shall be the breath of your 
lungs. I shall be the hilt of your sword and 
the pommel of your saddle. I shall be your 



2o8 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



tears, your laughter and your dreams. 
What you are eating there, it's I. 

HANS. It's seasoned to perfection. 

ONDiNE. Eat me, Hans, Eat me all. 
(Auguste dears his throat.) 

EUGENIE. Your father wishes to speak, 
Ondine. Quiet. 

AUGUSTE (lifting his glass again) . Quiet ! 
My lord, since you are doing us the honor 
of spending the night under our humble 
roof — 

ONDINE. A hundred nights. A thousand 
nights — 

AUGUSTE. Permit me to drink to the 
lady of your heart — 

ONDINE. How nice of you. Father! 

AUGUSTE. she who is even now 
trembling for your safety — 

ONDINE. She's not trembling now. 
He's safe enough. 

AUGUSTE. She whom you rightly call 
the most beautiful of women, although 
for my part, I am a little partial to 
Violante on account of — 

EUGENIE. Yes, yes, we know. Go on. 

AUGUSTE. I drink, then, to the most 
beautiful and noblest of women, to your 
dark angel, to your betrothed, the 
Princess Bertha. 

ONDINE (rising to her feet) . What name 
did you say? 

The name the knight told 



AUGUSTE, 

me. 

ONDINE. 

Bertha ? 

EUGENIE. 

you, dear. 

AUGUSTE. 



Since when am I called 



We were not speaking of 



The knight is going to marry 
the Princess Bertha, Ondine, as soon as 
he returns to court. Isn't that so, my 
lord? 

ONDINE. It's not so at all ! 

HANS. My little Ondine — 

ONDINE. Ah, he's emerging from the 
ham at last, that one. Well, speak, since 
your mouth is no longer full — is there a 
Bertha? Yes or no? 

HANS. Let me explain — 

ONDINE. Is there a Bertha? Yes or no? 

HANS. Yes. There is a Bertha. No. 
There was a Bertha. 

ONDINE. So it's true, what he told me 
about men! They're all deceivers. They 



draw you to them with a thousand tricks, 
they seat you in their laps, they pass their 
hands all over your body and kiss you till 
you can't breathe — and all the time they 
are thinking of a dark angel called Bertha ! 

HANS. I did nothing like that to you, 
Ondine ! 

ONDINE. You did. Don't you dare 
deny it. And you hurt me, too. (She bites 
her arm) Look at that. Father. See how he 
bit me ? Let him deny it, if he dares ! 

H ANS . You don ' t believe this nonsense , 
I hope? 

ONDINE. I shall be the humblest part of 
you and the noblest, he said. I am your 
bare feet. I am the wine you drink. I am 
the bread you eat. Those were his words. 
Mother ! And the things one has to do for 
him ! One has to spend the whole morning 
waking him up. One has to kill oneself 
the moment he dies. Yes! And all the 
time, in their secret hearts, they are 
nursing the thought of a dark angel called 
Bertha ! 

HANS. Ondine, on my word — 

ONDINE. I despise you ! I detest you ! 

HANS. Nevertheless, you might listen 
to me — 

ONDINE. I can see her from here, the 
dark angel, with her little shadow 
mustache and her plucked eyebrows. 

HANS. Now, Ondine, really . . . ! 

ONDINE. Don't come near me ! Or I'll 
throw myself into the lake. (She opens the 
door. It is raining heavily) So her name is 
Bertha ! 

HANS. I think there is no longer 
Bertha, Ondine. 

ONDINE. Leave this house at once, or 
I shall never enter it again ! (She turns 
suddenly) What did you say? 

HANS. I said, I think there is no longer 
any Bertha, Ondine. 

ONDINE. You lie! Farewell. (She runs 
out into the rain) 

HANS. Ondine ! (He runs to the door) 

AUGUSTE. My lord, my lord — you'll 
get drenched! (To Eugenie) There's a 
pretty kettle offish. 

EUGENIE. Yes, there's a pretty kettle 
of fish. 

AUGUSTE. I might as well tell him 
everything now. 



y 



iger any 



ONDINE 



209 



EUGENIE. Yes, you might as well tell 
him everything now. 
fHans turns. J 

HANS. She's not your daughter, is she? 

EUGENIE. No, my lord. 

AUGUSTE. We had a daughter. She was 
stolen from the cradle. 

HANS. Who left Ondine with you ? 

AUGUSTE. We found her at the edge 
of the lake the day our daughter 
disappeared. 

HANS. These things happen only in 
fairy tales. 

AUGUSTE. Yes, my lord. But it happened 
to us. 

HANS. Then it is you who must be 
asked for her hand ? 

AUGUSTE. She calls us her parents, my 
lord. 

HANS. Then, my friends, I have the 
honor of asking you for the hand of your 
daughter. 

AUGUSTE. My lord, are you in your 
right mind? 

HANS. Do you think that little wine of 
yours would turn my head? 

AUGUSTE. The wine? Oh, never. It's a 
little Moselle, very modest, very reliable. 

HANS. I assure you, I have never been 
more sober in my life. 1 ask you for the 
hand of Ondine with nothing in mind but 
the hand of Ondine. I want to hold this 
hand in mine. I want it to lead me to 
church, to war, and when the time comes, 
to death. 

AUGUSTE. But, my lord, you already 
have a hand for that. This would be a 
hand too many. 

HANS. A hand? Whose hand? 

AUGUSTE. The lady Bertha. 

HANS. Bertha? Do you know Bertha? 
I know her. I know her, that is, now that 
I know Ondine — 

AUGUSTE. But is not a knight, above 
all, required to be loyal? 

HANS. To his quest, yes. And I shall 
be loyal, above all, to my quest. Because, 
you know, up to now, we knights have 
been fools, all of us. We've been 
exploited; they take us for imbeciles. 
When we kill a monster, we're expected 
to vanish gracefully. When we find a 
treasure, we give it away. Well, that's 
finished. From now on I shall try to profit 



a little by my exploits. I have found a 
treasure and 1 shall keep it. Whether or 
not I knew it, my quest was Ondine, and 
I have found Ondine, and I shall marry 
Ondine. And nobody else in this world. 

EUGENIE. You are making a mistake, 
my lord. 

HANS. Eugenie — there was once a 
knight and his quest was to find something 
wonderful. And one night in a forest on 
the edge of a lake, he found a girl called 
Ondine. In her hands, tin turned to gold 
and water to jewels. The rain did not 
wet her. Her eyes were full of joy and 
her manner was royal. And not only was 
she the most wonderful creature he had 
ever seen, but he knew also that she would 
bring him all the delight and tenderness 
and goodness he would ever know in this 
world. Whereupon he bowed to her and 
went off to marry a girl called Bertha. 
Tell me, Eugenie, what sort of knight 
was this? 

AUGUSTE. You don't put the question 
properly, my lord. 

HANS. 1 ask you what sort of knight 
this would be. You don't dare to answer, 
but you know as well as I do. He would be 
a sort of idiot, would he not? 

EUGENIE. But, my lord, since you have 
given your word to another — 

HANS. He would be an idiot ! 

EUGENIE, Speak, Auguste. 

HANS, Yes, speak. If there is any reason 
why I should not have Ondine, tell it to 
me now. 

AUGUSTE. My lord, you are asking us 
for the hand of Ondine. It's a great honor 
for us — but she's not ours to give. 

HANS. You must have some idea who 
her parents may be ? 

AUGUSTE. With Ondine it's not a 
question of parents. If we had not adopted 
Ondine, she would have grov^n up just 
the same. Ondine is strange. You saw her 
tonight in the storm. You understand, 
my lord, it's not that she's in the storm. 
She is the storm. She's a beautiful child, 
my lord, there's no denying it. But there 
is more than beauty in Ondine. There is 
power. 

HANS. It's because she's young. 

EUGENIE. It's true, she's young — 

AUGUSTE. When I first married you, 



210 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



my poor Eugenie, you too were young. 
But your youth had no effect on the lake. 
You were beautiful. But the lake remained 
what it had always been, selfish and rude. 
And the floods were brutal and senseless 
as always, and the storm was a beast of 
prey. But since Ondine came to us, 
everything has changed. The water has 
become gentle. 

HANS. It's because you're old. 

AUGUSTE. It's true I'm no longer 
young. But a lake that counts into your 
net each day exactly the same twelve fish, 
a lake that never enters your boat, not 
even if it happens to have a hole in the 
bottom — I think you will agree that is a 
remarkably courteous lake. 

HANS. Well, suppose it is. What do 
you suggest? That I apply to the lake for 
permission to marry? 

AUGUSTE. I wouldn't joke about the 
lake. The lake has ears. 

HANS. And what's it to me if the lake 
has ears? I have no designs on the lake. 

AUGUSTE. We are speaking of Ondine, 
my lord. Ondine belongs to the lake. 
Ondine is the lake, my lord. 

HANS. Then I shall gladly take the lake 
to my bosom, and with it all the water in 
the world. The rivers shall be my brothers, 
the sea my mother, and the ocean itself 
my father-in-law. I love the water. 

AUGUSTE. Beware of the water, my 
lord! 

HANS. But why, Auguste? Why? 

AUGUSTE. That's all I know, my lord. 

HANS. Give me Ondine, Auguste. 

AUGUSTE. Give you Ondine ! And who 
am I to give you Ondine? Where is she 
now, Ondine ? Oh, I remember, naturally, 
having seen her once, the little Ondine. 
I remember her voice, her laughter, I 
remember she threw your trout out of the 
window, a twelve-inch trout, the only 
one I had left. But we shall never see her 
again, she will never again come to us 
except in tender little lightnings, in little 
storms; she will never again tell us she 
loves us except with the waves lapping at 
our feet, or the rain on our cheeks, or 
perhaps, suddenly one day with a great 
salt-water fish in my pike-weir. That 
wouldn't surprise me a bit. 



EUGENIE. Auguste, you're tired. It's 
time you came to bed. 

AUGUSTE. Do you remember the 
morning we found her, Eugenie? 

EUGENIE. Permit us to retire, my lord. 

AUGUSTE. There wasn't a mark on the 
sand, not a footprint — ^nothing — to show 
how the child got there. Only the wind 
and the sun and the lake staring at us 
fixedly with its eye — 

EUGENIE. I will show you to your 
room. 

HANS. Thank you. I shall sit here by the 
fire a little longer, if I may. 

EUGENIE. Come, Auguste. Tomorrow 
we shall speak of Ondine. 

AUGUSTE. If there is an Ondine. (He 
shakes his head) 

EUGENIE. Good night, my lord. 

HANS. Good night. Good night. 
(Auguste and Eugenie go out. Hans sits down 
by the jire and closes his eyes Jor a moment. 
The wall ojthe hut slowly becomes transparent^ 
and through it appear the lake and the forest. 
In the half-light there rises the Jigure of An 
Ondine, blond and nude. J 

THE ONDINE. Take me, handsome 
knight. 

HANS (looking up with a start). What? 

THE ONDINE. Kiss me. 

HANS. I beg pardon? 

THE ONDINE. Take me. Kiss me. 

HANS. What are you talking about? 

THE ONDINE. Am I too bold, handsome 
knight ? Do I frighten you ? 

HANS. Not in the least. 

THE ONDINE. Would you rather I were 
clothed? Shall I put on a dress? 

HANS. A dress? What for? 

THE ONDINE. Come to me. Take me. 
I am yours. 

(She vanishes. Another Ondine appears. She is 
dark and clothed.) 

THE SECOND ONDINE. Dou't look at 

me, handsome knight. 

HANS. Why not? 

THE SECOND ONDINE. Don't come near 
me. I'm not that sort. If you touch me, 
I'll scream. 

HANS. Don't worry. 

THE SECOND ONDINE. If you touch my 
hair, if you touch my breasts, if you kiss 
my lips, I swear, I'll kfll myself. I will not 
take oft my dress ! 



ONDINE 



21 I 



HANS. As you please. 

THE SECOND ONDINE. Don't come out, 
handsome knight. Don't come near me. 
I am not for you, handsome knight. 
fShe vanishes. Hans shrugs his shoulders. The 
two Ondines appear together at opposite sides 
of the room. J 

FIRST ONDINE. Take me. 

SECOND ONDINE. Don't touch me. 

FIRST ONDINE. I am yOUTS. 

SECOND ONDINE. Keep your distance. 

FIRST ONDINE. I Want you. 

SECOND ONDINE. You frighten me. 

ONDINE (appears suddenly) . Oh how 
silly you look, both of you ! 
(^The two Ondines vanish. J 

HANS (takes Ondine in his arms J . Little 
Ondine ! What is this nonsense ? Who are 
those women ? 

ONDINE. My friends. They don't want 
me to love you. They say anyone can have 
you for the asking. But they're wrong. 

HANS. They're very nice, your friends. 
Are those the prettiest? 

ONDINE. The cleverest. Kiss me, Hans. 

FIRST ONDINE (reappears) . Kiss me, 
Hans — 

ONDINE. Look at that fool! Oh, how 
silly a woman looks when she offers 
herself! Go away! Don't you know when 
you've lost? Hans — 

SECOND ONDINE (appears again next to 
the first). Hans — 

ONDINE. Go away, I say! Hans — 

A THIRD ONDINE (appears next to the 
others) . Hans — 

ONDINE. It's not fair! No! 

HANS. Let them speak, Ondine. 

ONDINE. No. It's the Song of the Three 
Sisters. I'm afraid. 

HANS. Afraid ? Of them ? 

ONDINE. Cover your ears, Hans. 

HANS. But I love music. 

THE FIRST ONDINE (sings). 

Hans Wittenstein zu Wittenstein, 
Without you life is but a fever. 
Alles was ist mein ist dein. 
Love me always, leave me never. 
HANS. Bravo ! That's charming. 
ONDINE. In what way is that charming ? 
HANS. It's simple. It's direct. It's 
charming. The song of the sirens must 
have been about like that. 

ONDINE. It was exactly like that. They 



copied it. They're going to sing again. 
Don't listen. 

THE THREE ONDINES (sing). 

Heed no more the west wind's 

Slack your sail and rest your oar. 
Drift upon the current surging 
Powerfully toward our shore. 

HANS. The tune is not bad. 

ONDINE. Don't listen, Hans. 

THE THREE ONDINES (sing) 

Sorrow once for all forsaking, 
Take our laughter for your sighs. 
These are yours but for the taking. 
Tender breasts and wanton thighs. 
ONDINE. If you think it's pleasant to 

hear others singing the things one feels 

and can't express . . . 

THE THREE ONDINES (sing) 

Come and take your fill of pleasure. 
Taste delight and drink it deep. 
We shall give you beyond measure 
Joy and rest and love and sleep. 

HANS. That's wonderful ! Sing it again ! 
Sing it again ! 

ONDINE. Don't you understand? They 
don't mean a word of it. They're just 
trying to take you away from me. 

THE FIRST ONDINE. You'velost, Ondine, 
you've lost! 

HANS. What have you lost? 

ONDINE. Your song means nothing to 
him ! 

FIRST ONDINE. He holds you in his 
arms, Ondine, but he looks at me ! 

SECOND ONDINE. He speaks your name, 
Ondine, but he thinks of me ! 

THIRD ONDINE. He kisscs your lips, 
Ondine, but he smiles at me ! 

THE THREE ONDINES. He dcceives you ! 
He deceives you ! He deceives you ! 

HANS. What are they talking about? 

ONDINE. He may look at you and smile 
at you and think of you as much as he 
pleases. He loves me. And I shall marry 
him. 

THE FIRST ONDINE. Then you agree? 
You make the pact? 

HANS. What pact? 

ONDINE. Yes. I agree. I make the pact. 
(The words are taken up mysteriously . They 
echo and re-echo from every quarter.) 

THE FIRST ONDINE. I am to tell them? 

ONDINE. Yes. Tell them. Tell them all. 



2l2 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



Those who sit and those who swim, those 
who float in the sunUght and those who 
crawl in darkness on the ocean floor. 

HANS. What the devil are you saying? 

ONDINE. Tell them I said yes. 
(^The word '"''yes^ is taken up by a thousand 
whispering voices.) 

THE FIRST ONDINE. And the Old One? 
Shall we tell him also? 

ONDINE. Tell him I hate him ! Tell him 
he lies ! 

THE FIRST ONDINE. YcS ? 

ONDINE. Yes! Yes! Yes! 
(Again the sound is taken up. The mysterious 
voices whisper through the darkness until the 
air is filled with echoes. There is a climax of 
sound, then silence. The Ondines vanish. The 
walls of the hut regain their solidity. J 

HANS. What a fuss ! What a racket ! 

ONDINE. Naturally. It's the family. 
(Hans sits in the armchair. Ondine sits at his 
feet) You're caught, my little Hans? 

HANS. Body and soul. 

ONDINE. You don't wish to struggle a 
little more ? Just a little more ? 

HANS. I'm too happy to struggle. 

ONDINE. So it takes twentv minutes to 
catch a man. It takes longer to catch a bass. 

HANS. Don't flatter yourself. It took 
thirty years to catch me. All my life. 
Ever since I was a child, I've felt something 
drawing me toward this forest and this 
lake. It was you? 

ONDINE. Yes. And now after thirty 
years, would it be too much if you told 
me at last that you love me? 

HANS. I love you. 

ONDINE. You say it easily. You've said 
it before. 

HANS. I've said something like it that 
meant something else. 

ONDINE. You've said it often? 

HANS. I've said it to every woman I 
didn't love. And now at last I know what 
it means. 

ONDINE. Why didn't you love them? 
Were they ugly? 

HANS. No. They were beautiful. But 
they no longer exist. 

ONDINE. Oh, Hans, I meant to give you 
everything in the world, and I begin by 
taking everything away. Some day you will 
hate me for it. 

HANS. Never, Ondine. 



ONDINE. Shall I ever see them, these 
women you don't love? 

HANS. Of course. 

ONDINE. where? 

HANS. Everywhere. In their castles. In 
their gardens. At the court. 

ONDINE. At the court? I? 

HANS. Of course. We leave in the 
morning. 

ONDINE. Oh, Hans, am I to leave my 
lake so soon? 

HANS. I want to show the world the 
most perfect thing it possesses. Did you 
know you were the most perfect thing the 
world possessed? 

ONDINE. I suspected it. But will the 
world have eyes to see it? 

HANS. When the world sees you, it will 
know. It's really very nice, Ondine, the 
world. 

ONDINE. Tell me, Hans. In this world 
of yours, do lovers live together always? 

HANS. Together? Of course. 

ONDINE. No. You don't understand. 
When a man and a woman love each other 
are they ever separate ? 

HANS. Separate? Of course. 

ONDINE. No, you still don't under- 
stand. Take the dogfish, for instance. Not 
that I'm especially fond of dogfish, mind 
you. But, once the dogfish couples with 
its mate, he never leaves her, never as 
long as he lives, did you know that? 
Through storm and calm they swim 
together, thousands and thousands of 
miles, side by side, two fingers apart, as 
if an invisible link. held them together. 
They are no longer two. They become 
one. 

HANS. Well? 

ONDINE. Do lovers live like that in 
your world? 

HANS. It would be a little difficult for 
lovers to live like that in our world, 
Ondine. In our world, each has his own 
life, his own room, his own friends — 

ONDINE. What a horrible word that is, 
each. 

HANS. Each has his work — his play — 

ONDINE. But the dogfish too have their 
work and their play. They have to hunt, 
you know, in order to live. And sometimes 
they come upon a school of herrings 
which scatter before them in a thousand 



ONDINE 



213 



flashes, and they have a thousand reasons 
to lose each other, to swerve one to the 
right, the other to the left. But they never 
do. As long as they live, not even a sardine 
can come between them. 

HANS. In our world, Ondine, a whale 
can come between a husband and wife 
twenty times a day, no matter how much 
they love each other. 

ONDINE. I was afraid of that. 
HANS. The man looks to his affairs ; the 
woman to hers. They swim in different 
currents . 

ONDINE. But the dogfish have to swim 
through different currents also. There 
are cold currents and warm currents. 
And sometimes the one likes the cold 
and the other the warm. And sometimes 
they swim into currents so powerful that 
they can divide a fleet, and yet they cannot 
divide these fish by the breadth of a nail. 
HANS. That merely proves that men 
and fish are not the same. 

ONDINE. And you and I, we are the 
same? 

HANS. Oh yes, Ondine. 
ONDINE. And you swear that you will 
never leave me, not even for a moment? 
HANS. Yes, Ondine. 
ONDINE. Because now that I love you, 
two steps away from you my loneliness 
begins. 

HANS. I will never leave you, Ondine. 
ONDINE. Hans, listen to me seriously. 
I know someone who can join us forever, 
someone very powerful. And if I ask him, 
he will solder us together with a band of 
flesh so that nothing but death can separate 
us. Would you like me to call him? 
HANS. No, Ondine. 
ONDINE. But, Hans, the more I think 
of it, the more I see there is no other way 
to keep lovers together in your world. 

HANS. And your dogfish? Do they need 
to be soldered like that? 

ONDINE. It's true. But they don't live 
among men. Let me call him. You'll see. 
It's a very practical arrangement. 

HANS. No. Let's try this way first. 
Later, we'll see. 

ONDINE. I know what you're thinking. 
Of course, she's right, you're thinking, 
the little Ondine, and naturally I shall 
be with her always, but once in a while, 



for just a little moment perhaps I shall 
go and take a turn by myself, I shall go 
and visit my friend. 

HANS. Or my horse. 

ONDINE. Or your horse. When this 
angel falls asleep, you're thinking, this 
angel whom I shall never leave not even 
for a moment, then, at last, I shall have a 
chance to go and spend a good half hour 
with my horse. 

HANS. As a matter of fact, I had better 
go and have a look at him now, don't you 
think? We're leaving at dawn, you know, 
and I ought to see if he's bedded properly. 
Besides I always tell him everything. 

ONDINE. Ah yes. Well, tonight you 
shall tell him nothing. 

HANS. But why, Ondine ? 

ONDINE. Because tonight you're going 
to sleep, my little Hans. (And with a 
gesture^ she throws sleep into his eyes) Good 
night, my love. 
(He falls asleep.) 

THE FIRST ONDINE (her voice seems very 
jar away). Good-bye, Ondine. 

ONDINE. Look after my lake ! 

THE SECOND ONDINE. Good-byc, On- 
dine. 

ONDINE. Take care of my stream ! 

THE KING OF THE SEA. Ondine ! 

ONDINE. Farewell, Old One. 

THE KING OF THE SEA. Don't leave us, 
Ondine. 

ONDINE. I have left you, Old One. 

THE KING OF THE SEA. The WOrld of 

men is not your world, Ondine. It will 
bring you sorrow. 

ONDINE. It will bring me joy. 

THE KING OF THE SEA. The man will 
deceive you. He will abandon you. 

ONDINE. Never! Never! 

THE KING OF THE SEA. And when he 
deceives you? When he abandons you? 
You will remember our pact? 

ONDINE. I shall remember our pact. 

THE KING OF THE SEA (his voice recedes) . 
Remember, Ondine. 

THE ONDINES (their voices are like the 
murmur of water). Remember, Ondine. 

HANS (turning in his sleep) . Remember, 
Ondine — 

ONDINE. Oh dear, from this time on, 
how much I shall have to remember ! 

CURTAIN 



214 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



ACT TWO 

The hall of honor of the king^s palace. It is 
a large vaulted loggia of Gothic design. The 
roof is supported by columns. The upstage side 
opens on the palace gardens^ in which may he 
seen three jets of water playing in marble 
basins in the sunshine. To the left is a dais with 
the king^s throne, and above the throne a 
mural depicting one of the labors of Hercules. 
There are arched doorways. 

The Lord Chamberlain and the Superin- 
tendent of the Royal Theatres are engaged in a 
conference. To one side stand respectfully the 
Trainer of the Seals and the Illusionist. 



THE CHAMBERLAIN. My dear Super- 
intendent, this is a matter that will require 
all your skill, and all your inventiveness. 
The Knight of Wittenstein has at last been 
persuaded to present his bride at court. 
His Majesty has asked me to provide an 
amusing interlude with which to grace 
the occasion. But the reception is to take 
place immediately. 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. The time is 
short, my Lord Chamberlain. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. It Couldn't be 
shorter. Well? As Superintendent of the 
Royal Theatres, what do you propose? 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. Salammho. 
(At this word Matho and Salammbo appear 
and begin at once to sing.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (striking thefoor with 
his sta^ for silence) . But you played 
Salammbo only last night for the Mar- 
grave's birthday. Besides, Salammbo is sad. 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. It's Sad. But it's 

ready. 

(He signs to his actors who burst at once into 

their duet.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (stops them again). 
I don't sCe why it is any more ready than 
Orpheus, which has only one character. 
Or the Interlude of Adam and Eve, which 
requires no costumes. 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. Excellency, my 
success in the theatre is based solely on 
the discovery that each particular stage 
has its likes and dislikes which it is useless 
to combat. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Time prcsscs, my 
good man. 



THE SUPERINTENDENT. Each theatre. 
Excellency, is built for one play and one 
play only. The whole secret of manage- 
ment is to discover what play that is. It's 
not easy, especially when the play is not 
yet written. And so, a thousand disasters 
— until that happy day when the play for 
which it was intended comes to its proper 
theatre and gives it its life, its soul, and, 
if I may say so, its sex. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Superintendent — 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. FoT years I 

managed a theatre which bumbled along 
miserably with the classics until suddenly 
one night it found its joy in a bawdy farce 
with sailors. It was a female theatre. I 
knew another which tolerated only 
Othello. It was male. Last year I was forced 
to close the Royal Ballet. Impossible to 
determine its sex. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. And you believe 
the Royal Auditorium — 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. ExistS Only foT 

Salammbo, yes, your Excellency. Aj, the 
word Salammbo, the tightness of throat 
with which the royal chorus is normally 
afflicted suddenly relaxes, and the hall 
resounds with voices full of resonance 
and joy. (Matho and Salammbo begin 
singing, atfrst softly, crescendo to the end of 
the speech) I tell you, my Lord Chamber- 
lain, sometimes when I play a German 
opera, I notice one of my singers, 
brimming with happiness, making mag- 
nificent gestures, sending out full-throated 
tones which fill the audience with such 
joy and comfort that it breaks into 
spontaneous applause — Why? Because 
among his fellow-actors, who are merely 
grinding out their parts by rote, this 
actor in the general confusion is blissfully 
singing his role in Salammbo. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (silencing the singers) . 
No. It would hardly do to entertain a 
newly married couple with a tragedy of 
unhappy love. Salammbo is out of the 
question. (The Superintendent waves his 
singers away. They go reluctantly. The 
Chamberlain turns to the Trainer of Seals) 
Who are you? 

THE TRAINER. I am the Trainer of 
Seals, your Excellency. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. What do they do, 
your seals ? 



ONDINE 



21S 



THE TRAINER. They don't sing 
Salammbo. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. That's a pity. A 
chorus of seals singing Salammbo would 
constitute a very appropriate entertain- 
ment. Besides, I am told that your head 
seal has a beard that makes him look like 
his Majesty's father-in-law. Is that true? 

THE TRAINER. I could shave him, 
Excellency. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. By a regrettable 
coincidence, his Majesty's father-in-law 
shaved his beard only yesterday. We had 
best avoid even the shadow of a scandal. 
And who are 



I am an illusionist. 
Where is your 



you.'' 

THE ILLUSIONIST 

Excellency. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN 

apparatus ? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. I am an illusionist 
without apparatus. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Now what do yOU 

take us for? You don't produce claps of 
thunder and lightning without apparatus. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. YeS. 

(There is a clap of thunder and lightning. J 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (cowering with fear). 
Nonsense. You can't produce sudden 
clouds of smoke which leave the stage 
covered with flowers without apparatus? 
(There is a sudden cloud of smoke^ and flowers 
fall from the ceiling.) 

THE ILLUSIONIST. YcS. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. What stubbomncss ! 
You don't suddenly produce before the 
eyes of the Lord Chamberlain — 

BERTRAM fcomes in) . Your Excellency— 
THE CHAMBERLAIN. Just a moment. — 
Venus completely nude — without ap- 
paratus. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. YeS. 

BERTRAM. Excellency — (A nude Venus 
appears. Bertram bows) Madame. 
f Venus disappears.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. I've always 

wondered who these Venuses are that 
magicians produce out of thin air? 
Relatives? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Or Venus herself. It 
depends on the magician. 

BERTRAM. Excellency, his Majesty is 
unavoidably detained by the African 
envoy. The reception is postponed for 
an hour. 



THE CHAMBERLAIN. Excellent. That 
gives us time to think of something. (To 
the Superintendent) Have you thought of 
something? 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. YcS, ExCcllency. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Ah. Splendid. 
What? 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. Salammbo. 
(The two singers appear, only to be waved off 
peremptorily by the Chamberlain.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (tO the lUusionist) . 

And how do you propose to amuse his 
Majesty? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. If your Excellency 
permits, I shall do what the occasion 
inspires. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. That's asking a 
great deal. After all, we have never seen 
your work. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. I shall be happy, 
while we are waiting, to offer a little 
private entertainment by way of demon- 
stration. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Ah. Very good. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. What would your 
Excellency like to see? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. I should vcry much 
like to see — 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Splendid. I shall bring 
them together at once. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. You are also a 
mind-reader? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Ycs. Excellcncy, I 
can, if you wish, bring together before 
your eyes a man and a woman who have 
been carefully avoiding each other for the 
past three months. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Here?NoW? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Here and now. If you 
will be SO good as to conceal yourselves — 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. But it's impossible, 
my dear fellow. Consider that the gentle- 
man in question is at this very moment in 
the royal apartments supervising the last 
details of his wife's costume. A tornado 
could not draw him from her. The 
injured lady, on the other hand, is locked 
up in her room. She was sworn she will 
under no circumstances appear. These 
two cannot possibly meet. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Ycs. But suppose that 
a dog were to steal the bride's glove and 
run out into the garden with it? And 
suppose that the lady's pet bullfinch 



2l6 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



should fly out of its cage and come to 
perch on the edge of the fountain ? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. That wiU get you 
nowhere. It is the halberdier's high duty 
to divert all dogs from the royal apart- 
ments. And as for the bird — the king has 
just loosed a falcon in the garden. It is 
hovering over the bullfinch's cage, 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Yes. But suppose that 
the halberdier slips on a banana peel? 
And suppose a gazelle distracts the falcon's 
attention ? 

THECHAMBERCAiN. Bananas and gazelles 
are unknown in these parts. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Yes. But the African 
envoy peeled a banana while waiting for 
his morning audience. And among the 
gifts sent by his government, there was a 
gazelle which is at this moment feeding in 
the garden. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Quite resourceful, 
you magicians. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Ycs. Take your 
places. In a moment you shall see the 
Princess Bertha and the Knight of Witten- 
stein come together in this hall. 
(Violante and Angelique come in from the 
garden. Thej hear the last words.) 

VIOLANTE. Really? 

ANGELIQUE. Really? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (beckoning to the ladies 
to join him behind a column) . Sh ! Come 
here. 

BERTRAM. But, Excellency, why are we 
doing this evil thing? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Sooncr or later it 
would have to happen. That's life. 

BERTRAM. Then why not let life take 
its course? 
^ THE CHAMBERLAIN. My dear Bertram, 
you are young and you are a poet. When 
you have reached my age, you will 
understand that life is a very poorly 
constructed play. As a rule, the curtain 
goes up in the wrong places, the climaxes 
don't come off, the denouement is 
interminably postponed, so that those who 
should die at once of a broken heart die 
instead of a kidney ailment at an advanced 
age. If this excellent illusionist can make 
us see a life unfold for once with the 
concision and logic that a good play 
requires — (To the Illusionist) Can you? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Perhaps. 



THE CHAMBERLAIN. Just One little 

scene, then. Just one little scene. 

BERTRAM. But, Excellency, the poor 
girl— 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. The girl has caused 
a knight to be false to his word. She 
deserves to suffer. 

BERTRAM. But why should we . . . ? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Don't excite your- 
self, my boy. Six months from now, in the 
normal course of events, Hans and Bertha 
would meet. Six months after that, they 
would kiss. A year after that, beyond a 
shadow of a doubt, they would — it's 
inevitable. And if we spare ourselves 
these delays, and bring their hands to- 
gether at once ; and, ten minutes later, 
their lips ; and five minutes after that, 
whatever else is necessary — will we be 
changing their story, really, in any way? 
We shall just be giving it a little pace, a 
little tempo — Magician! — What's that 
noise? 

THE TRAINER. The halberdier. He 
slipped on a banana peel. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Splendid. 

BERTRAM. Excellency, I beg of you, 
let's carry this no further. It's a mischie- 
vous thing. Left to themselves, perhaps 
these two would never meet again. (There 
is a scream from the garden) What's that 
scream ? 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. Thegazellc. The 
falcon struck it. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Perfect. You think 
you can bring off the whole thing at this 
pace, magician? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Perhaps. 
(The bird appears, perched on the fountain.) 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. The bird! 

THE TRAINER (looking out into the 
garden) . The dog ! 

VIOLANTE. The knight! 
(Hans is seen running after the dog in the 
garden.) 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. The lady ! 

(Bertha runs in and catches the bird.) 

HANS. Ah! There you are, you rascal! 

At last I've caught you ! 

BERTHA. Ah! There you are, you 

rascal ! At last I've found you ! 

(Each goes off without seeing the other. The 

spectators poke their heads out of their hiding 

places. They hiss.) 



ONDINE 



217 



BERTRAM (sighs With relief). Thank 
heaven ! 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. What's this, ma- 
gician ? Are you making fun of us ? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Sorry, sir. A fault in 
direction. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Are they going to 
meet or are they not? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. They are going to 
meet. And this time there will be no 
mistakes about it. I'll knock their heads 
together. fThe spectators hide once more J 
Now! 

(The dog runs across the garden, glove in 
mouth, with Hans in pursuit. The bird flies in 
and settles on the fountain. Bertha runs in from 
the right and catches it.) 

BERTHA. Again ! What a bad bird you 
are! 

HANS. Again ! What an obstinate beast ! 
(He enters the room with the glove in his 
hand, just as Bertha runs up with the bird. 
They collide. Hans takes her hands to keep her 
from falling. They recognize each other) Oh! 
I beg your pardon, Bertha. 

BERTHA. Oh! I'm sorry, Hans. 

HANS. Did I hurt you? 

BERTHA. Not a bit. 

HANS. I'm a clumsy brute. Bertha. 

BERTHA. Yes. You are. (There is a 
moment of embarrassed silence. Then each 
turns and walks ojf slowly. Bertha stops) 
Pleasant honeymoon? 

HANS.. Marvelous. 

BERTHA. A blonde, I believe? 

HANS. Blonde, like the sun. 

BERTHA. Sunlit nights! I prefer the 
darkness. 

HANS. Each to his taste. 

BERTHA. It was dark that night under 
the oak tree. My poor Hans ! You must 
have suffered ! 

HANS. Bertha! 

BERTHA. I didn't suffer. I loved it. 

HANS. Bertha, my wife is coming in at 
any moment. 

BERTHA. I was happy that night in your 
arms. I thought it was for always. 

HANS. And so it could have been, had 
you not insisted on sending me into the 
forest on a wild-goose chase. Why didn't 
you keep me with you, if you wanted me? 

BERTHA. One takes off a ring sometimes 



to show to one's friends. Even an 
engagement ring. 

HANS. I'm sorry. The ring didn't 
understand. 

BERTHA. No. And so it rolled, as rings 
do, under the nearest bed. 

HANS. 1 beg your pardon ! 

BERTHA. Forgive me. I shouldn't have 
mentioned a bed. Among peasants, you 
sleep in the straw, I believe? You pick it 
out of your hair the morning after. Is it 
fun? 

HANS. One day you will see. 

BERTHA. No, I don't think so. Black 
hair and straw don't go well together. 
That's for blondes. 

HANS. You may be right. Although in 
love, these details don't seem to matter. 
But, of course, you've never had that 
experience. 

BERTHA. You think? 

HANS, when you're in love, you don't 
think of yourself so much. You think of 
the other. You will see one day. But 
when it happens to you, don't let your 
lover go. 

BERTHA. No? 

HANS. Don't send him into senseless 
danger and loneliness and boredom. 

BERTHA. One would say you had a bad 
time in the black forest. 

HANS. You are haughty. But when you 
meet the man you love, take my advice — 
pocket your pride, throw your arms 
around his neck and tell him, before all 
the world, that you love him. 

BERTHA (she throws her arms around his 
neck). I love you. 

(She kisses him, then tries to run ojf. But he 
holds her by the hands.) 

HANS. Bertha! 

BERTHA. Let me go, Hans. 

HANS. What game are you playing with 
me now, Bertha? 

BERTHA. Be careful, Hans. I have a bird 
in my hand. 

HANS. I love another woman. Bertha. 

BERTHA. The bird ! 

HANS. You should have done that 
before. Bertha. 

BERTHA. Hans, don't squeeze my hand 
so. You're going to kill it. 

HANS. Let the bird go. Bertha. 

BERTHA. No. Its little heart is beating 



2l8 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



with fear. And just now I need this little 
heart next to mine. 

HANS, What is it you want of me, 
Bertha ? 

BERTHA. Hans — Oh. \ (Opening her hand 
and showing the bird J There. You've killed 
it. 

HANS. Oh, Bertha! (Taking the bird) 
Forgive me. Bertha. Forgive me. 
(Bertha looks at him a long moment. He is 
completely contrite. J 

BERTHA. Give it to me. I'll take the 
poor little thing away. (She takes it from 
himj 

HANS. Forgive me. 

BERTHA. I want nothing of you now, 
Hans. But once, I wanted something for 
you, and that was my mistake. I wanted 
glory — for the man I loved. The man I had 
chosen when I was a little girl, and whom 
1 led one night under the oak tree on 
which long ago I had carved his name. I 
thought it was a woman's glory to lead 
her lover not only to his table and his bed, 
but to whatever in the world is hardest to 
find and most difficult to conquer. I was 
wrong. 

HANS. No, Bertha. No, Bertha. 

BERTHA. I am dark. I thought that in 
the darkness of the forest this man would 
see my face in every shadow. I am dark, 
I trusted my love to the darkness. How 
could 1 have known that in these shadows, 
he would come one night upon a head of 
gold? 

HANS. How could anyone have known 
it? 

BERTHA. That was my error. I have 
confessed it. And that's the end of it. I 
shall carve no more initials in the bark of 
trees. A man alone in a dream of glory — 
that's already foolish. But a woman alone 
in a dream of glory is completely 
ridiculous. So much the worse for me. 

HANS. Forgive me. Bertha? 

BERTHA. Farewell, Hans. 
(She goes out^ right. He goes out^ left. The 
spectators appear^ crying '^ Bravo V^ ) 

THE ILLUSIONIST. There it is, your 
Excellency. The scene that would have 
taken place, without my assistance, next 
winter. I have brought it about, as you 
see, here and now. It has happened. 



BERTRAM. It is amply sufficient. We 
can stop here, can we not? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. No. No. No. No. 

I'm dying to see the next. The next, 
Magician, the next ! 

THE ILLUSIONIST. The ncxt scene? 

viOLANTE. The next! 

ANGELiQUE. The next! 

THE ILLUSIONIST. At youT servicc, 
ladies. Which one? 

VIOLANTE. The one in which Hans 
unlaces the helmet of the knight he has 
killed and it is the Lady Bertha . . . ? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. That scenc is in 
another play, Mademoiselle. 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. The scene in 
which the knight in the nick of time saves 
Bertha from the dragon . . . ? 

THE TRAINER. The sccne in which the 
knight, while twirling a ball on his nose — 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Please ! 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. The scene in which 
Bertha and Hans first speak of Ondine. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Very well. Excel- 
lency. That takes place next spring. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN . So much the better. 
I love the spring. 

(He goes behind his column. The lights dim. 
Bertha and Hans come in slowly Jrom opposite 
directions.) 

HANS (calls). Bertha. 

BERTHA (calls). Hans. 
(They catch sight of each other.) 

BERTHA. I was looking for you, Hans. 

HANS. I was looking for you, Bertha. 
(The Chamberlain comes out suddenly.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Magician! What 
does this mean? What have you done to 
me? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. It is One of the 
inconveniences of my system. You have 
grown an eight months' beard. You see, 
it is now next spring. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Ah 

(He disappears. The scene continues.) 

BERTHA. Hans, must there be this 

awful cloud between us? Can't we be 

friends ? 

HANS. I wish we could be. Bertha. 

But— 

BERTHA. I know. We can't be friends 

without Ondine. But it's your fault, 

Hans. You haven't let me see her since 

that awful day of the king's reception. 



ONDINE 



219 



And that's eight months ago, and quite 
forgotten. Send her to me this evening, 
Hans. I am illuminating a manuscript of 
the Aeneid for the king. Ondine can draw 
in the initials, and I shall teach her the 
secret of the gold leaf. 

HANS. Thanks, Bertha. But I doubt 
very much — 

BERTHA. Ondine doesn't letter? 

HANS. Ondine doesn't write. 

BERTHA. How lucky she is ! When you 
write, it takes away half the pleasure of 
reading. She has a charming voice. I'm 
sure she reads aloud beautifully? 

HANS. Ondine doesn't read. 

BERTHA. How I envy her! How 
wonderful among all these pedants to be 
able to give oneself up to the luxury of not 
reading. But she dances, I know — 

HANS. Never. 

BERTHA. You're joking, Hans ! You 
don't mean to say that she neither reads, 
nor writes, nor dances? 

HANS. Yes. And she doesn't recite. 
And she doesn't play the rote. Nor the 
harp, nor the lute. And she won't go 
hunting. She can't bear to see things 
killed. 

BERTHA. But what then does she do, in 
heaven's name? 

HANS. Oh, she swims. Occasionally. 

BERTHA. That's nice. Though it's not 
by sw^imming that a girl advances her 
husband's interests at court. And yet, 
let's be just, Hans. After all, these 
accomplishments mean nothing. A pretty 
woman has the right to be ignorant of 
everything, provided she knows when to 
keep still. 

HANS. It is this point precisely. Bertha, 
that worries me the most. Ondine does 
not know when to keep still. Quite the 
contrary. She says whatever comes into 
her head — and the things that come into 
that girl's head! Bertha, you know, the 
jousting season opens this week. And the 
thought of the phrases which will issue 
from Ondine as she watches these 
tournaments in which every step and 
pass-at-arms has its appropriate term — it 
makes me shudder. 

BERTHA. She can learn. 

HANS. I spent the morning trying to 
teach her the rudiments. Each time I give 



her a new term, she thanks me with a 
kiss. Now in the first position of the 
horseman alone there are thirty-three 
points to identify — 

BERTHA. Thirty-six. 

HANS. God, that's true! What am I 
thinking of? I tell you, I'm losing my wits, 
Bertha ! 

BERTHA. Send her to me, Hans. I'll see 
that she learns what she needs to know. 

HANS. Thanks. But, what she needs to 
know above all is the special signs and 
prerogatives of the Wittenstein. And 
those are a family secret. 

BERTHA. You forgct, Hans. I was 
almost one of the Wittenstein. Ask me a 
question. 

HANS. If you can answer this, I shall 
owe you a forfeit. What device does a 
Wittenstein bear on his shield when he 
enters the lists ? 

BERTHA. On a field azure, a squirrel 
passant, gules. 

HANS. Does he bear this device into 
combat? 

BERTHA. Never. At the moment he 
lowers his visor, his squire hands him a 
shield on which are emblazoned three 
lions rampant or, on a field sable. That is 
his device of war. 

HANS. Bertha! You're incredible! And 
how does a Wittenstein approach the 
barrier ? 

BERTHA. Lance squared, charger col- 
lected, slow trot. 

HANS. Ah, Bertha, what a lucky man 
the knight will be who marries you ! 
(He kisses her hand. She snatches it away. 
They' go off in opposite directions. J 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (no Beard) . Bravo ! 
Bravo ! Bravo ! And how right he is ! The 
Princess Bertha knows everything. She 
does everything. She is the ideal woman, 
beyond a doubt. You have us on pins and 
needles. Magician. The third scene! 
Quickly ! 

vioLANTE. The scene in which Bertha 
sees Ondine dancing in the moonlight 
with her fairies. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. You appear to be still 
a little confused. Mademoiselle. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. The first quarrel of 
Hans and Ondine. 



22o 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



BERTRAM. Couldn't we let that, at 
least, take care of itself? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. No, DO. We'd 

never get to see it. Magician — 

BERTRAM. But Excellency ! His Majesty 
will be here in a moment. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. By heaven, that's 
true. I will just have time to give this 
young lady the customary words of advice 
before the reception begins. You're not 
planning to do anything more till I get 
back, Magician? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Just One tiny scene, 
perhaps. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. In Connection with 
what? 

THE ILLUSIONIST, In Connection with 
nothing at all. Just a trifle to please an old 
fisherman whom I love. But your Ex- 
cellency needn't leave. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Oh nO, I mUSt. It is 

the Lord Chamberlain's duty to instruct 
all those who are presented at court. And 
in this particular case — 

THE ILLUSIONIST. If your Excellency 
wishes, I can save you the trouble of going. 
Take your place and you shall see yourself 
speaking to her. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. YoU Can't do it ! 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Nothing simpler. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (he backs away in 
astonishment until he is lost from sight J . 
What an extraordinary illusion ! 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Ycs. But first, the 
Lady Violante, (Violante steps forward. 
Auguste walks in from the garden. He looks in 
bewilderment at the Illusionist) The fleck of 
gold, Auguste. 

AUGUSTE (he sees Violante) . Are you the 
Lady Violante? 

VIOLANTE. Yes. What do you wish? 

AUGUSTE (looking into her eyes). I was 
right! It's marvelous! 

THE VOICE OF FUCiFNiE. Augustc ! Stick 
to your fishing ! 

( Auqustc makes a gesture of resignation ^ bows 
and goes.) 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Thank you, my lady. 
Here you come, your Excellency. 
(Violante goes behind the column. The Cham- 
berlain comes in leading Ondine by the hand.) 

THE CHAMBFRLAIN. Absolutely out of 
the question, dear lady! 



ONDINE, But it would make me so 
happy — 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. I regret deeply. To 
change the court reception, third class, 
into a water festival is entirely out of the 
question. The Minister of Einance would 
never hear of such a thing. Every time we 
turn the water into the pool, it costs us a 
fortune. 

ONDINE. But this will cost you nothing. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Pleasc don't insist. 
There is absolutely no precedent for a 
court reception in the water. 

ONDINE. But I am so much more at 
ease in the water. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. I am nOt. 

ONDINE. You would be. You especially. 
Your palm is damp. In the water, it 
wouldn't show. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. I beg your pardon. 
My palm is not damp. 

ONDINE. Oh, it is. Touch it and you 
will see. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Madame, do you 
feel strong enough to listen for a moment 
to a word of advice w^hich will help you 
to avoid a great deal of trouble in the 
future ? 

ONDINE. Oh yes. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. To listen without 
interrupting? 

ONDINE. Oh, I shouldn't dream of 
interrupting. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Splendid. Now, in 
the first place — the court is a sacred 
precinct — 

ONDINE. Excuse me just one moment. 
(She goes to the place where Bertram is hidden 
and fetches him out) What is your name? 
You? 

Bertram. 
You are the poet, are you 



BERTRAM 
ONDINE. 

not? 

BERTRAM 

ONDINE. 

BERTRAM 



So they say. 
You are not beautiful. 

They say that too. But 
usually they whisper it. 

ONDINE. Writing doesn't improve the 
appearance ? 

HFRTRAM. Oh yes. I used to be much 
uirlier. 

(Ondine laughs and goes back to the 
Chamberlain. Bertram stands by.) 
ONDINE. Excuse me. 



ONDINE 



11 1 



THE CHAMBERLAIN (controlling himself) . 
As I was saying. The court is a sacred 
precinct in which it is necessary for a 
man at all times to control — his face and 
his tongue. Here, when a man is afraid, 
he seems brave. When he lies, he seems 
frank. It is quite appropriate also, if by 
chance one is telling the truth, to appear 
to be lying. It inspires confidence. 

ONDINE. I see. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN, Let US take the 
example that you in your innocence bring 
up. It is true, my palm perspires. Ever 
since I was a child it has caused me infinite 
embarrassment. But damp as my hand is, 
my arm is long. It reaches to the throne. 
To displease me is to put oneself in 
jeopardy — and it does not please me to 
hear any mention of my physical short- 
comings, to be precise, of my sole 
physical shortcoming. And now, lovely 
Ondine, tell me, as a sophisticated court- 
lady, how is my hand, damp or dry? 

ONDINE. Damp. Like your feet. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. What? 

ONDINE. Just a moment. Do you 
mind? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. I mind very much ! 
(Ondine crosses once more to the poety who 
comes this time to meet her. J 

ONDINE. what was the first poem you 
ever wrote ? 

BERTRAM . The most beautiful . 

ONDINE. The most beautiful of your 
poems ? 

BERTRAM. The most beautiful of all 
poems. It so far surpassed the others as 
you, Ondine, surpass all women. 

ONDINE. Tell it to me quickly. 

BERTRAM. I don't remember it. It 
came to me in a dream. When I awoke, it 
w^as gone. 

ONDINE. You should have written it 
down sooner. 

BERTRAM. I did. Even a little too soon. 
I was still dreaming when I wrote it. 
(Ondine smiles and leaves him. She joins the 
Chamberlain who is fuming. J 

ONDINE. Yes, your Excellency? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (with a prodigious 
effort). My lady, let us admit that the 
Lord Chamberlain's palm is damp, and 
let's admit that he admits it. But tell me 



this — would you tell his Majesty that his 
hand was damp ? 

ONDINE. Oh no! 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Ah, bravo ! And 
why not? 

ONDINE. Because it's not. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. But I put yOU a 

case where it is! Look here, my girl, 
suppose his Majesty should question you 
about the wart on his nose. And his 
Majesty, believe me, has a wart on his 
nose. And for heaven's sake don't make 
me shout. It is death to mention it. No 
one ever has. Now — suppose he asked you 
what his wart resembled? 

ONDINE. Is it usual for a monarch who 
meets a lady for the first time to ask her 
what his wart resembles ? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. My dear girl, I am 
putting you a hypothetical case. In the 
event that you had a wart on your nose — 

ONDINE. I shall never have a wart on 
my nose. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. The girl is im- 
possible ! 

ONDINE. Warts come from touching 
frogs. Did you know that? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. No. 

BERTRAM (coming forward) . Madame, 
the Lord Chamberlain is merely trying to 
tell you that it is inconsiderate to remind 
people of their ugliness. 

ONDINE. It is inconsiderate of them to 
be ugly. Why should they be ugly? 
-^ THE CHAMBERLAIN. Courtesy is an in- 
vestment, my dear girl. When you grow 
old, in your turn, people will tell you, out 
of courtesy, that you look distinguished. 
When you grow ugly, they will say that 
you look interesting. And all this in 
return for a tiny payment on your part 
now. 

ONDINE. I don't need to make it. I 
shall never grow old. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. What a child you 
are! 

ONDINE. Yes. Excuse me a moment. 
(She goes to Bertram) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (exasperated) . On- 
dine! 

ONDINE. I like you, Bertram. 

BERTRAM. I'm delighted. But the 
Chamberlain is annoyed. 



222 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



ONDINE. Oh dear. (She goes back to the 
Chamberlain) I'm sorry. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (a bit stiffj) . There 
is just time now for me to instruct you on 
the question that his Majesty asks of every 
debutante at court. It has to do with the 
sixth labor of Hercules. Hercules, as you 
know, is his Majesty's name — he is 
Hercules the Sixth. Now listen carefully. 

ONDINE (taking a little step toward 
Bertram) . If I could just — 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Madame, his 
Majesty is almost here. When he asks you 
about the sixth labor of Hercules — (A 
Jlourish oj trumpets at some little distance) 
Too late. 
(Hans enters angrily.) 

HANS. Excellency — 

ONDINE. Don't interrupt, Hans. His 
Excellency is speaking. 

HANS. What does this mean. Ex- 
cellency? Have you put me below the 
Margrave of Salm ? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. YeS, Knight. 

HANS. I am entitled to the third rank 
below the king and the silver fork. 
\ THE CHAMBERLAIN. You Were. And 
even to the first, and even to the golden 
fork, if a certain project had materialized 
as we expected. But your present marriage 
assigns you to the fourteenth place and the 
pewter spoon. 

HANS. The fourteenth place ! 

ONDINE. What difference does it make, 
Hans? I've been to the kitchen. I'm sure 
there's enough for all. 
(Bertram laughs.) 

HANS. And why are you laughing, 
Bertram ? 

BERTRAM. I am laughing because my 
heart is gay. 

ONDINE. You don't wish to stop him 
from laughing, Hans? 

HANS. He's laughing at you. 

ONDINE. He's laughing at me because 
he likes me. 

BERTRAM. That's very true, Madame. 

HANS. My wife must provoke no 
laughter of any description. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Gentlemen! Gen- 
tlemen ! 

ONDINE. He won't laugh if you don't 
like it. He has no desire to displease me. 
Have you, Bertram? 



BERTRAM. My Only wish is to please 
you, Madame. 

ONDINE. Don't be angry with my 
husband, Bertram. It's flattering that he 
should be so scrupulous on my account. 
Don't you think so? 

BERTRAM. We all envy him the privi- 
lege. 

HANS (belligerently) . Thanks very 
much. 

ONDINE . Don 't show your nervousness , 
Hans. Be like me. I'm trembling. But an 
earthquake could not shake this smile 
from my lips. 

(Meanwhile people have streamed injrom all 
sides. The Illusionist comes up to Ondine.) 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Ondine — 

ONDINE. What are you doing here? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. I am fumishing the 
entertainment. Pardon the intrusion. 

ONDINE. Yes. On one condition. Go 
away. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. If you like. But in a 
little while, you will call me back, 
Ondine. 

(He walks off. There is another flourish of 
trumpets near at hand. The Chamberlain takes 
his place at the door. He strikes the floor with 
his staff three times.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. His Majesty, the 
King! 
(The King enters, bowing.) 

THE KING. Hail, Knight von Witten- 
stein. 

HANS. Your Majesty. 
(The King mounts his throne.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (advancing with 
Ondine). Your Majesty, with your 
gracious permission, may I present the 
Lady von Wittenstein zu Wittenstein. 

THE KING. Madame. 

ONDINE. My name is Ondine. 
(Bertha takes her place on the lower step of 
the dais. Ondine looks at no one else.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (whispers) . Your 
curtsey, madame. 

(Ondine curtseys, with her eyes still on 
Bertha.) 

THE KING. We receive you with 
pleasure, dear child, in this gallery which 
is called the Hall of Hercules. I love 
Hercules. Of all my many names, his is by 
far my favorite, and of course the one by 
which I am known. The resemblance 



ONDINE 



223 



between Hercules and myself has been 
noticed by everyone, ever since I w^as a 
little child, and I must confess that at 
w^ork or at play I have tried to emulate 
him in everything. And speaking of w^ork 
— you know^, I presume, how^ many 
labors Hercules brought to a successful 
conclusion? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN (whispers) . Twelve. 

ONDINE f without taking her eyes from 
Bertha's face J . Tw^elve. 

THE KING. Twelve. Exactly. The Lord 
Chamberlain prompts a little loudly, but 
your voice is delightful. It will be a little 
more difficult for him to whisper in your 
ear the complete description of the sixth 
labor, but he won't have to. If you lift 
your eyes, you will see it depicted on the 
wall. Look. Who is this woman who is 
trying to seduce Hercules, with a smile 
on her lips and a lie in her heart? Her 
name, my dear? 

ONDINE. Bertha. 

THE KING. I beg pardon? 

ONDINE (taking a step toward Bertha). 
You shall never have him, Bertha ! 

BERTHA. What? 

ONDINE. He will never be 
Bertha. Never! 

THE KING. Is the girl quite well? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Madame, His 
Majesty is addressing you. 

ONDINE. If you say a word to him, if 
you dare to touch him, I'll kill you! 

HANS. Ondine! 

BERTHA. The girl is mad! 

ONDINE. Majesty, I'm frightened! I 
beg you, save us ! 

THE KING. Save you from what, my 
child? 

HANS. Your Majesty, she's not used to 
the court. 

ONDINE. You, be quiet. You don't see 
what's happening? Oh, King, isn't it a 
pity? You have a husband for whose sake 
you'd give up anything in the world. 
He's strong — he's brave — he's hand- 
some — 

HANS. Ondine, for heaven's sake ! 

ONDINE. I know what I'm saying. 
You're stupid, but you're handsome. It's 
no secret — all the women know it. And 
they say, what a lucky thing it is for us 
that being so handsome, he's so stupid! 



yours, 



Because he's so handsome, how sweet it 
will be to take him in our arms. And how 
easy — since he's so stupid. Because he's 
so handsome, he will give us such joy as 
our husbands can never give us. And this, 
without the slightest danger to ourselves 
— since he's so stupid. 

BERTRAM. Bravo ! 

ONDINE. I am right, am I not, 
Bertram ? 

HANS. Ondine, please ! And you — what 
do you mean by saying. Bravo? 

BERTRAM. When I say Bravo, Knight, 
I mean Bravo. 

THE KING. That's quite enough, Count 
Bertram. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN f intervening suavely J . 
Your Majesty, I had hoped to offer by 
way of interlude, ? little diversion — 

BERTHA. His Majesty is sufficiently 
diverted. His adopted daughter has been 
insulted before all the court by a peasant ! 

HANS. Majesty, permit us to take our 
leave. 1 have an adorable wife, but she is 
not like other women. She is very 
innocent, and she says whatever comes 
into her head. I humbly beg your 
forgiveness. 

ONDINE. You see. King? You see 
what's happening? 

THE KING. Bertha is the soul of sweet- 
ness. She wants only to be your friend — 

ONDINE. You're entirely mistaken! 

HANS. Ondine! 

ONDINE. You think it's sweet to kill a 
bird? 

THE KING. Bird? What bird? Why 
should Bertha kill a bird? 

ONDINE. To trouble Hans. To bring 
him to his knees. To make him beg her 
pardon. 

BERTHA. The bird was in my hand, 
Majesty. He pressed my hand so hard that 
the bird was killed. 

\:^ ONDINE. He did not. A woman's hand, 
no matter how soft, becomes a shell of 
iron when it protects a living thing. If 
the bird were in my hand. Your Majesty, 
Hercules himself could press with all his 
strength and never hurt it. But Bertha 
knows men. These knights whom dragons 
cannot frighten grow faint at the death 
of a bird. The bird was alive in her hand. 
She killed it. 



224 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



HANS, It was I who pressed her hand. 

ONDiNE. It was she who killed it. 

THE KING. Ondine, my dear, I want 
you to be Bertha's friend. 

ONDINE. If you wish. On condition she 
stops shouting. 

HANS. But she hasn't said a word, 
Ondine. 

THE KING, she really hasn't. 

ONDINE. Are you deaf? Don't you 
hear ? She says that a week of this foolish- 
ness will cost me my husband, and a 
month will cost me my life, that all she 
needs to do is to wait and I shall vanish. 
That's what your soul of sweetness is 
saying. Oh, Hans, take me in your arms, 
here, now, before her eyes, or we are 
lost forever ! 

HANS. You forget where you are, 
Ondine. 

ONDINE, The bird is alive, Hans. I 
wouldn't let it die, 

BERTHA, She is out of her mind. The 
bird is dead, 

ONDINE, Go and see if you don't 
believe me. You killed it. I brought it to 
life. Which of us is out of her mind? 

THE KING. You brought the bird back 
to life, you say? 

ONDINE. Yes, King. Now do you see 
what a hypocrite she is ? 

THE KING. Bertha is no hypocrite, 
Ondine. 

ONDINE. She is. She calculates her 
every word. She flatters you constantly. 

THE KING. Nonsense, my dear. 

ONDINE. Has she ever dared to speak 
to you about — 

THE KING, About my descent from 
Hercules on the sinister side? Do you 
think that makes me blush ? 

ONDINE, No, About the wart on your 
nose. 

THE KING (rises). What? (General 
consternation. Violante Jaints and is carried 
out) Leave us, all of you, 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Clear the room! 
Clear the room ! 

(All leave, with the exception of the King and 
Ondine. j 

THE KING. Ondine! 

ONDINE (desperately) . If you ask me 
what it resembles, it resembles a flower, 
a mountain. It resembles a cathedral. 



Hercules had two in exactly the same 
place, one alongside of the other. They 
were called the Pillars of Hercules. 

THE KING. Ondine! 

ONDINE. He got them by touching the 
Hydra. He had to touch the Hydra, 
naturally, in order to strangle it. It was 
his fifth labor. 

THE KING (sitting down again). My 
little Ondine, I like you very much. It's 
a rare pleasure to hear a voice like yours 
at court, even when this voice insists on 
discussing my wart — which, incidentally, I 
do inherit from Hercules, precisely as you 
say. But, for your own sake — tell me the 
truth. 

ONDINE. Yes. Yes, I shall tell you the 
truth. 

THE KING. Who are you? 

ONDINE. I belong to the water. I am an 
Ondine. 

THE KING. How old are you? 

ONDINE. Sixteen. But I was born many 
ages ago. And I shall never die. 

THE KING, what are you doing here? 
Does our world attract you? 

ONDINE. From the water it seems so 
beautiful. 

THE KING. And from the land? 

ONDINE. There are ways to have water 
before one's eyes always. 

THE KING. It is in order to make the 
world seem beautiful that you are 
weeping? 

ONDINE. No. It's because they wish to 
take Hans away from me. 

THE KING. And suppose they do? 
Would that be so great a misfortune ? 

ONDINE. Oh yes. If he deceives me, 
he will die. 

THE KING. Don't worry, my dear. 
Men have been known to survive under 
those conditions. 

ONDINE. Not this one, 

THE KING, And what makes you think 
that Hans will deceive you? 

ONDINE, I don't know. But they knew 
it the moment they saw him. Isn't it 
strange ? The lake had never knowoi deceit, 
not even the sound of the word. Then one 
day there appeared on its banks a hand- 
some man with a loyal face and an honest 
voice, and that very moment the word 
deceit thrilled through the depths. 



ONDINE 



22^ 



THE KING. Poor Ondine ! 

ONDINE. It's because your world is 
inverted in ours. All the things that I 
trust in Hans — his straight look, his clear 
words — to the water they seem crooked 
and cunning. He said he would love me 
always — and the water said, he deceives 
you! 

THE KING. The water speaks? 

ONDINE. Everything in the universe 
speaks, even the fish. Each time I left the 
cottage that night, they spat the word at 
me. He is beautiful, I said. Yes, said the 
bass, he will deceive you. He is strong, I 
said. Yes, said the perch, he will deceive 
you. Are you fond of perch, by any 
chance ? 

THE KING. I have no particular feeling 
about them. 

ONDINE. Spiteful little things ! But I 
was proud of him. I decided to take the 
risk. I made the pact. 

THE KING. The pact? What pact? 

ONDINE. The king, my uncle, said to 
me, you agree that he shall die if he 
deceives you? What could I answer? 

THE KING. But he hasn't deceived 
you — yet. 

ONDINE. But he is a man. He will. And 
then he will die. 

THE KING. A king's memory is short. 
Your uncle will forget. 

ONDINE. No. 

THE KING. But, after all, what power 
has your uncle over him ? What danger is 
he in? 

ONDINE. Whatever is wave or water is 
angry with him. If he goes near a well, 
the level rises. When it rains, the water 
drenches him to the skin. Wherever he 
goes, the water reaches after him. 

THE KING. Will you take my advice, 
little Ondine? 

ONDINE. Yes. 

THE KING. Go away, my dear. 

ONDINE. With Hans? 

THE KING. Dive into the first river you 
come to, and vanish forever. 

ONDINE. But he's so clumsy in the 
water. 

THE KING. You have had three months 
of happiness with Hans. In our world, 
that is a lifetime. Go while there is time. 

ONDINE. Without Hans? 



THE KING. He's not for you. His soul is 
small. 

ONDINE. I have no soul. 

THE KING. Because you don't need 
one. You are a soul. But human souls are 
tiny. There is no man whose soul is great 
enough for you. 

ONDINE. I wouldn't love him if there 
were. I have already seen men with great 
souls — they are completely wrapped up in 
them. No, the only men whom one can 
love are those who are just like other 
men, whose thoughts are the thoughts of 
other men, who are distinguished from 
other men only by being themselves and 
nothing more. 

THE KING. You are describing Hans. 

ONDINE. Yes. That is Hans. 

THE KING. But don't you see, my dear, 
that Hans loves what is great in you only 
because he sees it small? You are the 
sunlight; he loves a blonde. You are 
grace itself; he loves a madcap. You are 
adventure; he loves an adventure. One 
day he will see his mistake — and at that 
moment, you will lose him. 
'> ONDINE. He will never see it. If it 
were Bertram, he would see it. Not Hans. 
•> THE KING. If you wish to save him, 
leave him. 

ONDINE. But I cannot save him by 
leaving him. If I leave him, they will say 
he deceived me, and Hans will die. No, 
it's here that I must save him. Here. 

THE KING. And how will you do that, 
my little Ondine? 

ONDINE. I have the remedy. It came to 
me while I was quarreling with Bertha. 
Did you notice — each time I came be- 
tween Hans and Bertha, I succeeded only 
in bringing them more closely together. 
The instant I said something against 
Bertha, he sprang to her defense. Very 
well, from now on I shall do exactly the 
opposite. I shall tell him twenty times a 
day how beautiful Bertha is, how right she 
is. Then she will be wrong. I shall manage 
so that they are always alone. Then they 
will no longer feel the slightest desire 
for each other. In that way, with Bertha 
always there, I shall have Hans completely 
to myself. Oh, how well I understand 
men! Don't I? (The King rises and kisses 



226 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



her) Oh, Your Majesty! What are you 
doing ? 

THE KING. The king thanks you, my 
child. 

ONDiNE. Thanks me? For what? 

THE KING. For a lesson in true love. 

ONDINE. My idea is good? 

THE KING. Stupendous. 
(Enter the Chamberlain. J 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. FoTgive me, Your 
Majesty. The court is in complete conster- 
nation. What is your will? Shall I tell 
them all to withdraw ? 

THE KING. By no means. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. The reception is 
to continue? 

THE KING. Of course. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. And the interlude ? 
You wish to see it? 

THE KING. At once. 

ONDINE. How wonderful ! Now 1 shall 
be able to ask Bertha's pardon before 
everyone. 

fThe Chamberlain goes to the door and waves 
his stajf. The Court comes in Jrom all sides. 
Bertha takes her place, haughtily.) 

THE KING. Princess Bertha, Ondine 
has something to say to you. 

ONDINE. I ask your pardon. Bertha. 

THE KING, Very nice, my child. 

ONDINE. Yes. But she might answer 
me. 

HANS. What? 

ONDINE. I have asked her pardon, 
though I don't want it. She might at least 
answer me. 

THE KING. Bertha, Ondine has ac- 
knowledged her error, whatever it was. 
I should like you to be friends. 

BERTHA. Very well, Your Majesty. I 
pardon her. 

ONDINE. Thank you. Bertha. 

BERTHA. On condition that she admits 
publicly that I did not kill the bird. 

ONDINE. 1 admit it publicly. She did 
not kill the bird. The bird is alive — you 
can hear it singing. But she tried to kill it. 

BERTHA. You See, Your Majesty? 

HANS. One doesn't speak like that to 
the royal princess, Ondine! 

ONDINE. The royal princess? Would 
you like to know who she is, this royal 
princess? Shall I show you? Shall I? 

HANS. Silence, Ondine. 



ONDINE. I happen to know the father 
of this royal princess. He is not a king. He 
is a fisherman — 

BERTHA. Hans ! 

HANS. Ondine. You've said enough. 
fHe takes Ondine by the wrist) Come. 

ONDINE (resisting) . Not yet, Hans ! 

HANS. Come, I say! 

ONDINE. Old One! Old One! Help 
me! 

(The Illusionist appears. He is followed by the 
Chamberlain.) 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Your Majesty, the 
interlude. 

THE KING (as they seat themselves) . Yes, 
Ondine, you have gone too far. Everyone 
knows there was a golden crown on 
Bertha's pillow when she was found. 

ONDINE. The crown was mine ! 
(The lights go out, and come up immediately 
on a little set in the garden level. It depicts the 
fisherman s cottage on the edge of the lake. 
Two Ondines are dancing in the waterfall. An 
Ondine comes in with a child in its arms. The 
others join her as she puts the child into a 
basket which she covers with rich silks.) 

THE ONDINE (sings) . 

Wrap the child in silk and lace 
So the princess of the sea 
May be nurtured in her place 
By Auguste and Eugenie. 
(At this moment the burly tenor dressed as 
Matho and the robust soprano dressed as 
Salammbo advance to either side of the set and 
begin singing loudly. The Ondines stop in 
astonishment.) 

MATHO (sings). I. am a soldier, that is 
all. 

SALAMMBO (sings) . And I the niece of 
Hannibal. 
(The Illusionist steps forward.) 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Who are these 
people. Excellency? They have nothing to 
do with my show. 

MATHO (sings). I am a common 
mercenary. 

SALAMMBO. I Stand at the other pole. 

MATHO. But I love this sacred person. 

SALAMMBO. I adore this humble soul. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Where did they come 
from? What are they singing? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Salammbo. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. But they're spoiling 
the illusion. Tell them to stop. 



ONDINE 



227 



THE CHAMBERLAIN. Impossible. Once 
they begin, nothing can stop them. 

SALAMMBO (sings). Take me, take me, 
and Carthage too. 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Enough ! 
fHe makes a gesture. The two singers continue 
singing and posturing, but without a sound. 
The Ondines resume.) 
FIRST ONDINE (sings) . 

Set the little creature down. 
Whom we stole from Eugenie, 
And beside her set the crown 
Of the princess of the sea. 

SECOND ONDINE (sings). 

Weep not, we shall not forsake you. 
Helpless, human little thing. 
Soon a knight will come and take you 
To the palace of the king. 
THIRD ONDINE (sings). 

But lest it ever be forgotten 
Who she is and whence begotten, 
On her skin I draw the sign 
Of her father's hook and line. 

(The Ondines turn toward Bertha and sing 

together.) 

THE ONDINES. 

Bertha, Bertha, if you dare, 
show the world your shoulder bare ! 
(The lights go on suddenly; the Jisherman^ s 
cottage and the Ondines vanish. Hubbub. 
Bertha is on herjeet.j 

ONDINE. Well, Bertha? 

BERTHA. It's a lie! 

ONDINE. Is it? (She tears the dress from 
Bertha^ s shoulders. The sign is there) You 
see? 
(Bertha kneels before the King.) 

MATHO and SALAMMBO (suddenly audible, 
they walk off together, singing) . 

All is love beneath the stars, 
Is love, is love, is love ! 

BERTHA. It's a lie ! (She kneels before the 
King) It's a lie, Your Majesty. 
(The King glances at her shoulder on which 
the mark is visible.) 

THE KING. Is this true, Ondine? 

ONDINE. Yes, King. 

BERTHA (desperately ) . Hans ! 
(Hans makes a protecting gesture.) 

ONDINE. Old One! Where are they? 
(The Illusionist lifts a hand. Auguste and 
Eugenie appear. They see Bertha) Oh, my 
darlings ! 

THE KING. Bertha, it is your father. 



Have you no word to say to him, to your 
mother ? (Bertha is silent) As you please . . 
(Auguste and Eugenie go. The King walks 
ojf. The court follows slowly) But — (He 
stops) — until you have asked their pardon, 
I forbid you to show your face at court. 
(He goes off , followed by the court. Bertha is 
left sobbing bitterly.) 

ONDINE. Forgive me. Bertha. (There is 
no answer) You will see. The king will call 
you back in a moment. And they will all 
love you more than before. (Bertha says 
nothing) Ask her to come and stay with 
us, Hans. 

HANS. Come with us. 
(Bertha turns silently.) 
> ONDINE. Oh, how difficult it is to live 
among you, where what has happened 
can never again not have happened ! How 
terrible to live where a word can never 
be unspoken and a gesture can never be 
unmade! But I will undo it all. You will 
see. 

HANS. Come with us. Bertha. My 
castle is large. You shall live with us 
always, in the wing that looks out on the 
lake. 

ONDINE. A lake? Your castle has a 
lake, Hans? 

HANS. It has a lake. The other side 
faces the Rhine. 

ONDINE. The Rhine? 
(The Chamberlain comes in.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. The king wishes to 
know whether the pardon has been asked. 

ONDINE. It has been asked. From the 
heart. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. In that case, 
Princess — 

ONDINE. oh Hans, haven't you a 
castle in the plains, in the mountains far 
from the water? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Princess Bertha, 
the king desires your presence. He 
forgives you. 

ONDINE. You see? 

HANS. Tell him we have asked you to 
come with us. 

ONDINE. He already knows that. 
(Bertha and the Chamberlain go out. Hans 
and Ondine cross in the direction of the 
garden.) 

HANS (as they pass the fountain) . And 



228 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



why all this fear of the water ? What is it 
that threatens you from the water? 

ONDINE. Me? Nothing. 

HANS. If I sit down at the edge of a 
brook, you drag me away. If I walk near a 
pond, you come between us. What is it 
you fear? 

ONDINE. Nothing, Hans. 

HANS. Yes, Ondine, my castle is 
surrounded by water. And in the morn- 
ings, I shall bathe under my waterfall, and 
at noon I shall fish in my lake, and in the 
evening I shall swim in the Rhine. You 
don't frighten me with these tales about 
water. What's water? Can it see? Can it 
hear? 

(As he passes, the jets of water rise high and 
threatening over their basins. The Illusionist 
appears. J 

ONDINE. Yes, Hans. 
(They go. The Chamberlain comes out from 
behind his column, and, a moment later, the 
Superintendent, the Trainer, Bertram and the 
Two Ladies come out oj hiding.) 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Wonderful! Won- 
derful! (To the Illusionist) Very nice 
indeed. 

THE SUPERINTENDENT. Wonderful ! 

viOLANTE. But is all this really going 
to happen? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. My dear, it has 
happened. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. And what happens 
next. Magician? 

THE COURT. Yes. What next? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Does he decide to 
marry Bertha? 

THE COURT. Does he? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Does he deceive 
Ondine? 

THE COURT. Does he? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Naturally. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. When Can we see 
that? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. At oncc, if you like. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Splendid. Let's 
see it. (He goes behind his column) Go on. 

BERTRAM, No, Excellency. No. 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. Yes, ycs. Go on. 
Go on. Butwhat's this? What's happened? 
(He comes out) I'm bald? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Five years have 
passed. 



THE CHAMBERLAIN . My teeth are gone ? 
I'm stuttering? 

THE ILLUSIONIST. Shall I continuc? 

THE CHAMBERLAIN. No. No, foT 

heaven's sake ! An intermission ! An 
intermission ! 

CURTAIN 

ACT THREE 

The courtyard of the castle of the Witten- 
stein. The yard is surrounded on three sides by 
the walls of the castle. Arched doorways lead 
into it. At one side there is a platform with 
a well. 

It is the morning of the marriage of Bertha 

and Hans. There is a sound of church bells 

from the chapel. Hans, splendidly dressed, is 

sitting on the platform steps with his head in 

his hands. A servant enters. 

THE SERVANT. My lord, the choir has 
filed into the chancel. 

HANS. What did you say? 

THE SERVANT. I refer to the choir 
which will sing at your wedding. 

HANS. Do you have to use this pompous 
tone? Can't you talk like a human being? 
(Bertha comes in. She too is dressed for a 
wedding.) 

THE SERVANT. Long life to the bride ! 
To the Lady Bertha ! 

HANS. Oh. Go away! 

BERTHA. But, Hans, why are you angry 
on the day of our wedding ? 

HANS. What? You too? 

BERTHA. I had hoped that your face 
would be radiant with joy. 

HANS. Stop it, stop it! Stop it! 

BERTHA. Hans, really! 

HANS. I'm lost. Bertha! I'm lost! 

BERTHA. Hans, you frighten me. 
You're so strange today. 

HANS. There is a tradition in our 
family, Bertha. Whenever misfortune 
threatens, the servants feel it before 
anyone else, and they begin to speak all at 
once in solemn language. On the day of 
misfortune, the kitchen-maids are filled 
with grandeur. The swineherds see what 
they never saw before. They speak of the 
curve of the stream ; the shape of the 
flower fills them with awe ; they exclaim 
with wonder at the honeycomb. They 
speak of nature, of the soul of man. They 



ONDINE 



229 



become poets. That day, misfortune 
strikes. 

BERTHA. But the man wasn't speaking 
in poetry, Hans. There were no rhymes. 

HANS. When I hear him speak in 
rhymes, I shall know that death is at hand. 

BERTHA. Oh Hans, that's super- 
stitious ! 

HANS. You think? 

BERTHA. This is not the day of your 
death, Hans. It is the day of your wedding. 

HANS (he calls). Walter! (The servant 
enters) Where is the swineherd? 

THE SERVANT. Under a spreading oak — 

HANS. Hold your tongue. 

THE SERVANT. On a grassy bank he 
lies — 

HANS. Go fetch him. Quickly. 
(The servant goes out. Bertha takes Hans in 
her arms.) 

BERTHA. Oh Hans, my dear, I love you. 

HANS. You're good to me. Bertha. 

BERTHA. You are holding me in your 
arms, Hans, but you are not thinking of 
me. What are you thinking? 

HANS. I was weak, Bertha. I should 
have made her confess. I should have 
made her suffer as she made me suffer. 

BERTHA. Can't you put her out of your 
mind, Hans? Not even today? 

HANS. Today less than any other. Oh, 
Bertha, you should have married a man 
full of joy and pride. And look at me ! Oh, 
Bertha, how she lied to me, that woman ! 

BERTHA. She never lied to you, Hans. 
She was no woman. You married a 
creature of another world. You married 
an Ondine. You must forget her. 

HANS. If she would only let me forget 
her! But that cry that awakened me the 
morning she left — 'T have deceived you 
with Bertram ! ' ' Has it stopped echoing 
for even a moment? Does one hear 
anything else from the river, from the 
lake ? Does the waterfall ever stop dinning 
it in my ears ? Day and night, in the castle, 
in the city, from the fountains, from the 
wells — it's deafening! But why does she 
insist on proclaiming to the w^orld that 
she deceived me with Bertram ? 
(An echo comes from the well.) 

THE ECHO. Deceived you with 
Bertram . (Another echo whispers from the 



right) With Bertram. (From the left) With 
Bertram. 

HANS. You hear? You hear? 
BERTHA. Let's be just, Hans. You had 
already deceived her with me. And of 
course she knew it. It was only in revenge 
that she deceived you with Bertram. 

THE ECHOES (whisper hack). Deceived 
you with Bertram. With Bertram. 

HANS. Where is she now. Bertha? 
What is she doing? In the six months 
since she left, every huntsman, every 
fisherman in the region has been trying 
to find her. You would say she had 
vanished. And yet she's not far off. This 
morning at dawn they found a wreath of 
starfish and sea urchins on the chapel 
door. She put it there, of course. You 
know that. 

BERTHA. Oh, my darling, who would 
have thought that you of all men would 
have seen anything in a girl like Ondine ? 
When I sent you into the forest, I thought, 
this man will surely come back. He will 
look carefully, right and left, but he will 
never find an enchanted lake, nor the 
cave of a dragon, he will never glimpse 
among the trees at twilight the white 
forehead of a unicorn. He has nothing to 
do in that world. He will follow the 
human path. He will not lose his way. 

HANS. I lost it. 

BERTHA. Yes, but you found it again. 
It was in the fifth year of your marriage, 
that night in the winter when you told me 
it was me you had always loved, and I ran 
away from you, and you followed my 
tracks in the snow. They were deep and 
wide. They spoke plainly of my distress. 
They were not the tracks of a spirit. They 
were human tracks, and you found them, 
and once more you found your way. You 
carried me back in your arms that night. 

HANS. Yes. Like Bertram when he 
carried away Ondine. (The servant enters) 
Where is the swineherd? 

THE SERVANT. In the shadow of an oak, 
by the banks of a stream — 

HANS. Well? 

THE SERVANT. I Called him, but he did 
not answer. He is gazing at the sky. He is 
looking at the clouds. 

HANS. Never mind. Fetch me the 
kitchen-maid. 



230 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



THE SERVANT, There is a fisherman to 
see you, my lord. 

HANS. Get me the kitchen-maid at 
once, do you hear, no matter what she's 
gazing at. 

THE SERVANT. Yes, my lord. The 
fisherman. 
(The servant goes. The fisherman comes in. J 

FIRST FISHERMAN. My lord ! My lord ! 

HANS. Say it twice more and it's 
poetry. 

FIRST FISHERMAN. We have her! She's 
caught. 

HANS. Ondine? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. Yes. Ycs. An 
Ondine ! 

BERTHA. Are you sure? 

HANS, where did you catch her? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. In the Rhine. In my 
net. 

HANS. You're sure it's she? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. Positive. Her hair 
was over her face, but her voice was 
marvelous, her skin like velvet. She's 
wonderfully formed, the little monster. 
(The second fisherman appears.) 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Prepare yourself. 
The judges are coming. 

BERTHA. Judges? 

HANS. What judges? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. The Imperial and 
Episcopal judges who have jurisdiction 
over the supernatural. 

BERTHA. So soon? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. They were already 
holding assizes below in the city. 

FIRST FISHERMAN. They Came from 
Bingen, you see, to hang a werewolf. 
Now they will try the Ondine. 

BERTHA. But why must they try her 
here? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. Because an Ondine 
must be tried on a rock. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. And bcsides, you 
are the complainant. 

HANS. That's true. 

BERTHA. Don't they know what day 
this is? Couldn't they try her another 
time? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. My lady, the trial 
must be now. 

HANS. They're right. Bertha. The trial 
must be now. 



BERTHA. Hans — don't see her again, I 
beg you. 

HANS. I shall never see her again. You 
heard what he said — he caught an Ondine 
in the Rhine. What I shall see won't even 
know me, 

BERTHA. Don't look at her, Hans. 

THE SERVANT ( comes in). The judges, 
my lord. 

HANS. Just a few minutes more. 
Bertha, and we shall be at peace. 

THE FISHERMAN. The judges. 
(The judges come in, puffing a little. They are 
followed by an ancient clerk with a great 
book.) 

FIRST JUDGE. Marvelous ! The exact 
altitude. Just above the realm of the water. 
Just below the realm of the air. It 
couldn't be better. (He bows to Bertha) 
My lady. Our felicitations. 

SECOND JUDGE. Our compliments, my 
lord. 

BERTHA. I shall be within call, Hans, if 
you want me. (Bertha goes out) 

HANS. You come in the nick of time, 
gentlemen. But how did you know there 
was work for you here? 

FIRST JUDGE. OuT work gives us a 
degree of insight unknown to our col- 
leagues in the civil and criminal law. 

SECOND JUDGE. It is also more 
difficult. 

(The servants arrange the court. The clerk 
sits down, opens his register and sharpens his 
quill.) 

FIRST JUDGE. To determine the line 
that divides two vineyards is easy. But to 
fix the proper boundaries between 
humanity and the spirits, hoc opus, hie — 
excuse me — hie labor est. 

SECOND JUDGE. But in the case at 
hand, our task appears to be easy. 

FIRST JUDGE. It is the first time we 
have tried an Ondine who does not deny 
being an Ondine. 

SECOND JUDGE. All the more reason 
to be careful. 

FIRST JUDGE. Quite right, my dear 
colleague. 

SECOND JUDGE. You have no idea of 
the subterfuges these creatures use to 
elude our investigations. The salamanders 
pretend to be Ondines. The Ondines 
pretend to be salamanders. (He sits down) 



ONDINE 



231 



FIRST JUDGE. Excuse me. 
•v^ SECOND JUDGE. You remember, my 
dear colleague, that affair at Kreiznach, 
when we tried the pretended Dorothea, 
the alderman's cook? She gave us every 
reason to believe she was a salamander. 
But we didn't jump at conclusions. We 
put her to the torch to make sure. She 
burnt to a crisp. 

FIRST JUDGE (smiles reminiscentlyj . She 
was no more salamander than I am. (He 
sits down J 

SECOND JUDGE. She was an Ondine. 
js FIRST JUDGE. We had a similar case 
last week, the matter of a certain 
Gertrude, a blonde barmaid of Tubingen. 
It was clearly established that in her 
presence the beer glasses filled by them- 
selves and, what is even more miraculous, 
without heads of foam. You would have 
been certain she was an Ondine. We 
threw her into the water with her hands 
tied — 
S SECOND JUDGE. She immediately 

drowned. 
> TiRST ]UDGE (he shrugs) . A salamander. 

HANS . Did you bring Ondine with you ? 

FIRST JUDGE. We have her in custody. 
But before we examine her, Knight, it 
would be extremely valuable for us to 
ascertain the exact nature of your 
complaint. 

HANS. My complaint? My complaint is 
the complaint of all mankind. Is it so 
much after all that God has granted us, 
these few yards of air between hell and 
heaven? Is it so attractive, after all, this 
bit of life we have, with these hands that 
get dirty, these teeth that fall out, this 
hair that turns gray? Why must these 
creatures trespass on our little world? 
Gentlemen, on the morning of mv 
marriage, I claim the right to be left in 
peace in a world that is free of these 
intrusions, these threats, these seductions, 
alone with myself, with my bride, alone 
at last. 

FIRST JUDGE. That is a great deal to 
ask. Knight. 

SECOND JUDGE. Yes. It may seem sur- 
prising that these creatures should derive 
all their satisfaction from staring at us 
while we wash our feet, kiss our wives. 



or beat our children. But that is the 
undeniable fact. Around each human 
gesture, the meanest, the noblest, a host 
of grotesque presences with tails and 
horns is constantly dancing its round. 
What's to be done? We must resign 
ourselves. 

HANS. Has there never been an age 
when they did not infest us ? 

SECOND JUDGE. An age? To my 
knowledge. Knight, there has never been 
a moment. 

--J FIRST JUDGE. Yes, once there was a 
moment. One only. It was late August, 
near Augsburg, in the harvest season 
when the peasants were dancing. I had 
stretched out under an apple tree. I 
looked up into the sky. And suddenly I 
felt that the whole world was free of 
these shadows that beset it. Above my 
head I saw a lark soaring in the heavens — 
without its usual twin, the raven. Our 
Swabia spread to the Alps, green and 
blue, without my seeing over it the 
Swabia of the air, peopled with blue 
angels, nor below it the Swabia of hell, 
teeming with green devils. On the road 
there trotted a horseman with a lance 
unattended by the horseman with the 
scythe. By the river, in the sun, the mill 
wheel turned slowly, without dragging in 
its orbit that enormous shadowy wheel 
that grinds the souls of the damned. For 
that instant, the whole world was single- 
hearted, at work, at play, at peace — and 
yet I tasted for the first time a certain 
loneliness, the loneliness of humanity. 
But the next moment, the horseman was 
joined by Death, the clouds bristled as 
always with lances and brooms, and the 
customary fish-headed devils had joined 
the dancing couples. There they were, 
all back at their posts again just as before. 
Bring in the accused. 

(Ondine is led in by the executioner. She is 
nude^ hut draped around her body is the net in 
which she was caught. She is made to stand on a 
little elevation opposite the judges. A number 
oj people come in to witness the trial.) 

SECOND JUDGE (peering at her). Her 
hands are not webbed, apparently. She is 
wearing a ring. 

HANS. Remove it. 



232 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



ONDINE. No! 

(The executioner removes it by force and hands 
it to Hans. J 
-=* HANS. It is my wedding ring. I shall 
need it presently. 

FIRST JUDGE. Knight — 
;> HANS. The necklace too. The locket 
has my picture in it. 

ONDINE. No! 
(The executioner takes it off.) 

FIRST JUDGE. Knight, with all respect, 
I must ask you not to interfere with the 
conduct of this trial. Your anger is 
doubtless justified, but we must avoid 
even the semblance of confusion. We will 
proceed with the identification. 

HANS. It is she. 

FIRST JUDGE. Bcyond a doubt. But we 
must follow the indicated procedure. 
Where is the fisherman who caught her? 
Summon the fisherman to the bar. 
(The first fisherman takes the stand.) 
,•> FIRST FISHERMAN. It's the first time I 
ever caught one, your honor. This is my 
lucky day ! 

FIRST JUDGE. Congratulations. Now — 
what was she doing when you caught her ? 
> FIRST FISHERMAN. I knew that some 
day I'd catch one. I have known it every 
morning for the last thirty years. How 
often have I said — today I'm going to 
catch one. But this morning, I was 
certain. 

FIRST JUDGE. I askcd you what she was 
doing. 

,> FIRST FISHERMAN. And, mind you, I 
caught her alive. The one they caught at 
Regensburg, they bashed its head in with 
an oar. But I was careful. I just knocked 
her head against the side of the boat a few 
times to stun her. Then I dragged her in. 

HANS. You ox. You hurt her head. 

FIRST JUDGE. Answer my questions. 
Was she swimming when you caught her? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. She was Swimming. 
She was showing her breasts, her but- 
tocks. She can stay under a full fifteen 
minutes. I timed her. 

FIRST JUDGE. Was she singing? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. She was making a 
little sound, like a moan. If it was a dog, 
you'd call it a yelp, a bark. I remember 
what she was barking. She was barking: I 
deceived you with Bertram. 



FIRST JUDGE. You're talking nonsense. 
Since when can you understand a bark? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. As a rulc, I don't. 
To me a bark is a bark, as a rule. But this 
one I understood. And what it said was — 

FIRST JUDGE. She had an odor of 
sulphur when you pulled her out? 
^ FIRST FISHERMAN. She had an odor of 
algae, of pine. 

's^ SECOND JUDGE. That's not the same 
thing. Did she have an odor of algae or an 
odor of pine ? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. She had an odor of 
algae, of pine. 

FIRST JUDGE, Never mind, my dear 
colleague. 

FIRST FISHERMAN. She had an odor that 
said plainly : I deceived you with Bertram. 

FIRST JUDGE. Sincc when do odors 
speak? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. OdoTS don't Speak. 
But this one said — 

FIRST JUDGE. She Struggled, I presume ? 

FIRST FISHERMAN. No. Not at all. You 
might say, she let herself be caught. But 
when I had her in the boat, she shuddered. 
It was a sort of movement of the shoulders 
that said, as clear as clear can be : I 
deceived you with^ — 

HANS. Have you quite finished, you 
idiot? 
^> FIRST JUDGE. You must cxcusc the 
man. Knight. These simple souls are 
always imagining things. That is the 
origin of folklore. 

FIRST FISHERMAN. I swcar by all that's 
holy that that's one of them. I'm sorry 
about the tail. She didn't have it when I 
caught her. There's a double reward for 
catching them alive? 

FIRST JUDGE. You may collect after the 
trial. Very well. Fisherman. That's all. 

FIRST FISHERMAN. And what about my 
net? Can I have my net back? 

FIRST JUDGE. Your net is in evidence. 
It will be returned to you in due course. 

SECOND JUDGE. Out yoU gO. 

(The fsherman goes out, grumbling.) 
■^ FIRST JUDGE. Proceed with the ex- 
amination. 

(The second judge extends a very long 
telescope and focuses it on Ondine.) 
HANS. What are you doing? 



ONDINE 



233 



*7 SECOND JUDGE. I am going to examine 
the body of this girl — 

HANS. No one is going to examine her 
body! 
v-^ FIRST JUDGE. Calm your fears, Knight. 
My colleague is an experienced anatomist. 
It was he who personally established the 
physical integrity of the Electress Josepha 
in connection with the annulment of her 
marriage, and she commented especially 
on his tact. 

HANS. I tell you, this is Ondine. That's 
enough. 

SECOND JUDGE. Knight, I understand 
that it is painful for you to have me auscul- 
tate in public the body of someone who 
was once your wife. But I can, without 
touching her, study through the glass 
those parts which differentiate her species 
from the human race. 

HANS. Never mind the glass. You can 
look at her from where you are. 

SECOND JUDGE. To identify with the 
naked eye and from a distance the very 
subtle variations that distinguish an 
Ondine from a human being seems to me 
an extremely impractical operation. She 
could at least take off the net and walk a 
little. She could show us her legs? 

HANS. She will do nothing of the sort. 

FIRST JUDGE. It would perhaps be in 
better taste not to insist, my dear 
colleague. In any case, the evidence is 
sufficient. Is there anyone present who 
denies that this is an Ondine? 
J SECOND FISHERMAN (without moving) . I 
deny it. 

-^ FIRST JUDGE. Who Said that? Remove 
that man. 

THE SERVANT. Don't kill her, your 
honor. She was good to us. 

SECOND JUDGE (shrugs his shoulders). 
She was a good Ondine, that's all. 

THE SERVANT. She loved us. 

SECOND JUDGE. There are affectionate 
varieties even among turtles. 

FIRST JUDGE. Since we hear no ob- 
jection, we declare that the supernatural 
character of the accused has been es- 
tablished beyond a reasonable doubt. We 
proceed to the second part of the trial. 
Knight, do you accuse this creature, by 
reason of her illegal intrusion into our 



world, of having caused disorder and 
confusion in your domain? 

HANS. I? Certainly not. 

FIRST JUDGE. But you do accuse her of 
being a sorceress ? 

HANS. Ondine, a sorceress? 

FIRST JUDGE. We are merely trying to 
define her crime, Knight. 

SECOND FISHERMAN (stepping forward) . 
Ondine, a sorceress? 

FIRST JUDGE. Who is this man? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. I am a witness. 
> ONDINE. He's lying! 
7 FIRST JUDGE. Ah. In that case, you may 
speak. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. This Ondine is no 
longer an Ondine. She has renounced her 
race and betrayed its interests. She has 
become a woman. 

FIRST JUDGE. A soTceress. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. This woman could 
call upon the earth and the heavens to do 
her bidding. The Rhine is her servant. 
But she gave up her power in favor of 
such human specialties as hay fever, 
headaches and cooking. Is that true. 
Knight, or is it false? 

FIRST JUDGE, You accusc her, if I 
understand correctly, of having taken on 
a favorable appearance in order to ferret 
out the secrets of the human race ? 

HANS. Rubbish! 

SECOND FISHERMAN. The human race 
has no secrets, your honor. It has only 
afflictions. 

FIRST JUDGE. It also has treasures. 
Doubtless she stole your gold, Knight, 
your jewels? 

HANS. She? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. All the gold and 
the jewels of the world meant nothing to 
Ondine. Of the treasures of humanity, 
she preferred only the humblest — the 
stove, the kettle, the spoon. The elements 
loved Ondine, but she did not return their 
affection. She loved the fiire because it 
was good for making omelettes, and the 
water because it made soup, and the wind 
because it dried the wash. Write this into 
your record. Judge — this Ondine was the 
most human being that ever lived. She 
was human by choice. 

SECOND JUDGE. We are informed that 
the accused was in the habit of locking 



234 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



herself up for hours each day in order to 
practice her magic arts. What do you say 
to that? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. It's true. And 
what was the result of her magic, you? 

THE SERVANT. A meringue, your honor. 

SECOND JUDGE. A mcringue ? What 
sort of meringue ? 

THE SERVANT. She worked for two 
months to discover the secret of a good 
meringue. 

SECOND JUDGE. That is one of the 
deepest of human secrets. Did she 
succeed? 

::? FIRST JUDGE. Fisherman, we thank 
you. We shall take account of these facts 
in considering our judgment. If these 
creatures envy us our pastry, our bric-a- 
brac, our ointments for eczema, it is 
hardly to be wondered at. It is only 
natural that they should recognize the 
.t- pre-eminence of the human condition. 

SECOND JUDGE. There's nothing in the 
world like a good meringue. You say she 
discovered the secret? 

THE SERVANT. Her crust was pure 
magic, your honor, 
%^ SECOND JUDGE (to the jiTst judge) . You 
don't suppose that with a few turns on 
the rack we might perhaps induce her 
to—? 

FIRST JUDGE. No, my dear colleague, 
no. (He clears his throat) We come now to 
the heart of the matter. At last, Knight, 
I understand the full import of your 
complaint. Ondine, you are accused of 
having cheated this knight of the joys of 
marriage. In place of the loving companion 
to which every man is entitled, you 
foisted upon this knight a wearisome 
existence with a woman who cared for 
nothing but her kitchen. In this way — 
and this is the greatest of the crimes 
against the human spirit — you have robbed 
him of love. Naturally. An Ondine is 
incapable of love. 

HANS. Ondine incapable of love? 

FIRST JUDGE. Really, Knight, it is 
becoming a trifle difficult to follow you. 
Of what, precisely, do you accuse this 
woman ? 

HANS. I accuse this woman of adoring 
me beyond human endurance. I accuse 



her of thinking only of me, of dreaming 
only of me, of living only for me. 

FIRST JUDGE. That is not a crime, 
exactly. 

HANS. I was this woman's god, do you 
understand ? 

FIRST JUDGE. Now, nOW 

HANS. You don't believe me? Very 
well. Answer me, Ondine. Who was your 
god? 

ONDINE. You. 

HANS. You hear? She pushes love as 
far as blasphemy. 

FIRST JUDGE. Oh, come, there's no 
need to complicate the issue. These 
creatures are not Christians. They cannot 
blaspheme. All she means is that she had 
a proper wifely reverence for you. 

HANS. Who were your saints, Ondine? 

ONDINE. You. 

HANS, who were your angels? Whose 
face did you see in the holy pictures in 
your Book of Hours ? 

ONDINE. Yours. 

HANS. You see? 

FIRST JUDGE. But where is all this 
leading us. Knight? We are here to try 
an Ondine, not to judge the nature of 
love. 

HANS. Nevertheless, that is what you 
are required to judge. It is Love I am 
accusing. I accuse the highest love of 
being the foulest and the truest love of 
being the most false. This woman who 
lived only for me deceived me with 
Bertram. 

FIRST JUDGE. You are heaping 
confusion on confusion. Knight. If what 
this woman says is true, she could not 
possibly have deceived you with anyone. 

HANS. Answer, Ondine. Did you or 
did you not deceive me with Bertram ? 

ONDINE. With Bertram. 

HANS. Swear it, then. Swear it before 
these judges. 

ONDINE (rises to her feet) . I swear it 
before these judges. 

FIRST JUDGE. If she deceived you, we 
shall see soon enough. My dear colleague, 
put the three canonical questions. The 
first? 

SECOND JUDGE. Ondine, when you 
ee this man running, what do you do ? 

ONDINE. I lose my breath. 



ONDINE 



23^ 



FIRST JUDGE. HlTl. 

SECOND JUDGE. And when he snores 
in his sleep — excuse me, Knight — what 
do you hear? 

ONDINE. I hear the sound of singing. 

FIRST JUDGE. So far her answers are 
correct. The third question, if you please. 

SECOND JUDGE. When he tells an 
amusing story for the twentieth time in 
your presence, how does it seem to you? 

ONDINE. Twenty times funnier than 
before. 

FIRST JUDGE. And nevertheless you 
deceived him with Bertram? 

ONDINE. I deceived him with Bertram. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. You needn't 
shout, Ondine. I heard you. 

ONDINE (whispers). I deceived him 
with Bertram. 

HANS. There you have it. 

FIRST JUDGE. Do you realize, young 
woman, what the punishment for adultery 
is ? Do you realize that this is a crime that 
is never confessed, because the confession 
doubles the injury? 

ONDINE. All the same — 

SECOND FISHERMAN. You deceived him 
with Bertram? 

ONDINE. Yes. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Answer me, now, 
Ondine. And see that you answer me 
truly. Where is Bertram now? 

ONDINE. In Burgundy, where he is 
waiting for me to join him. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Where was it that 
you deceived your husband with Bertram ? 

ONDINE. In a forest. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. In the moming? 
At noon? 

ONDINE. At noon. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Was it cold? Was 
it warm ? 

ONDINE. It was icy. Bertram said : Our 
love will keep us warm. One doesn't 
forget such words. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Very good. And 
now, if you please, summon Bertram to 
the bar. 

FIRST JUDGE. Bertram has been gone 
these six months. Fisherman, He is beyond 
the power of the law. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Its power seems 
limited. Here he is. 
(Bertram comes in. J 



HANS. Bertram! 

FIRST JUDGE. Just a moment, Knight. 
You are the Count Bertram ? 

BERTRAM. YeS. 

FIRST JUDGE. This woman says she 
deceived her husband with you. 

BERTRAM. What? 

FIRST JUDGE. Is it true ? 

BERTRAM. If shc says it, it is true. 

FIRST JUDGE. Where did it happen? 

BERTRAM. In her room. In this castle. 

FIRST JUDGE, In the moming ? At night ? 

BERTRAM. At midnight. 

FIRST JUDGE. Was it cold? Was it 
warm? 

BERTRAM. The logs werc blazing on 
the hearth. Ondine said: How hot it is, 
the way to hell ! One doesn't forget such 
words. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Perfect. And now 
everything is clear. 

ONDINE. And why is it so clear? Why 
should we remember these trifles ? When 
people really love each other do you 
think they know whether it is warm or 
cold or noon or midnight? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Count Bertram, 
take this woman in your arms and kiss her 
lips. 

BERTRAM. I take my orders only from 
her. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Ask him to kiss 
you, Ondine. 

ONDINE. Before all these people? 
Never. 

SECOND JUDGE. And yet you expect us 
to believe that you gave yourself to him ? 

ONDINE, Kiss me, Bertram. 

BERTRAM. You really wish it? 

ONDINE. Yes. I wish you to kiss me. 
Just for a moment. Just to prove that we 
can. And if I should shudder a little when 
you take me in your arms, Bertram, it's 
only because it's cold. 

SECOND JUDGE. We are waiting, 
Ondine. 

ONDINE. Couldn't I have something to 
cover myself with, at least? 

SECOND JUDGE. No. As you are. 

ONDINE. Very well. So much the 
better. I love to feel Bertram's hands on 
my body when he kisses me. Come, 
Bertram. But if I should scream a little, 
Bertram, when you take me in your arms. 



236 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



it's only because I'm frightened here 
before these people. Besides, I may not 
scream. 

SECOND JUDGE. Make up your mind, 
Ondine, 

ONDiNE. Or if I should faint. But if I 
faint, Bertram, you may do whatever you 
please with me, whatever you please. 

FIRST JUDGE. Well, Ondine? 

ONDINE. Well, Bertram? 

BERTRAM. Ondine! (He takes her in his 
arms and kisses her J 

ONDINE. Hans! Hans! 

SECOND FISHERMAN. There's your 
proof, gentlemen. 
(The judges put on their hats.) 

ONDINE. But you don't understand. If 
I say Hans when I kiss Bertram, it is only 
to deceive him the better. If I loved 
Bertram with no thought of Hans, would 
that be deceit? No, but every moment 
that I love Bertram, I think of Hans and I 
deceive him. With Bertram. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. We understand. 
The trial is over. You may go. Count 
Bertram. 

BERTRAM. Must I go, Ondine ? 

ONDINE. Farewell, Bertram. 

BERTRAM. Farewell. (Bertram goes) 

FIRST JUDGE. The court will now 
deliver its judgment. 

SECOND JUDGE. Oycz ! Oycz ! 

FIRST JUDGE. It is the judgment of this 
court that this Ondine has transgressed 
the boundaries of nature. However the 
evidence indicates that in so doing she 
brought with her nothing but kindness 
and love. 

SECOND JUDGE. And even a little too 
much kindness and love. 
-> FIRST JUDGE. Why she wished to make 
us believe that she deceived you with 
Bertram when in fact she did not, is a 
question beyond the scope of our 
inquiry. As she has done no great harm, it 
is our judgment that she shall be spared 
the humiliation of a public execution. 
She shall have her throat cut without 
witnesses this day di|:ectly after sunset. 
Until that time, we pWie^her in the 
custody of the public exe45J|LoK'^. (Church 
bells begin to ring again) Wnar^'mat? 

SECOND JUDGE. Wedding bells, my 



dear colleague. The Knight is about to be 
married. 

FIRST JUDGE. Ah, of couTse. The 
nuptial procession is forming in front of 
the chapel. Knight, permit us to join you 
in the hour of your happiness . 
(The kitchen-maid walks up to Hans.) 

HANS, who is this? 

FIRST JUDGE. Who ? 

HANS. This woman who walks toward 
me like a creature from the other world? 

SECOND JUDGE. We don't know her. 

FIRST JUDGE. She scems to be of this 
world. 

THE SERVANT. It's the kitchen-maid, 
my lord. You asked me to fetch her. 

HANS. How beautiful she is ! 

FIRST JUDGE. Bcautiful ? 

HANS. How very beautiful ! 

SECOND JUDGE. We shall not contra- 
dict you. Will you precede us? 

HANS. No, no. I have to hear first what 
she says. She alone knows the end of this 
story. Speak ! Speak ! We are listening. 

SECOND JUDGE. Is he out of his mind ? 

FIRST JUDGE. He has every reason. 

HANS. Speak! Speak! 

THE KITCHEN-MAID. 

My face is plain, my nature sour. 
But, oh, my soul is like a flower. 

HANS. That rhymes? 

FIRST JUDGE. Rhymes ? Not at all. 

THE KITCHEN-MAID. 

Had I been free to choose my lot, 
My hands had never touched a pot. 
HANS. You're not going to tell me 
these verses don't rhyme? 

SECOND JUDGE. VcTSeS ? 
FIRST JUDGE. What VCTSCS? 
THE KITCHEN-MAID. 

My clothes are poor, my face is plain. 
And yet of high rank is my pain ; 
There is as much salt in my tears 
As in those shed by emperors. 
And when the butler vents his spleen, 
It hurts as if I vv^ere a queen. 
Oh, when we two come to your city. 
And, kneeling, ask for grace and pity, 
Both bearing on our brows the same 
Affronts and thorns and marks of 

[shame. 
Will you know us one from the other, 
My lord, my savior and my brother? 



ONDINE 



237 



HANS. That's a poem, is it not? Would 
you call that a poem ? 
) FIRST JUDGE. A poem ? All I heard was 
a scullion complaining that she had been 
falsely accused of stealing a spoon. 
> SECOND JUDGE. She Said her coms have 
been aching since November. 

HANS. Is that a scythe she bears in her 
hand? 

- FIRST JUDGE. A scy the ? No, that's a 
spindle. 

SECOND JUDGE. It's a broom. 
' HANS. I thank you, kitchen-maid. 
When next you come, I shall be ready. 
Come, gentlemen. 

fThe kitchen-maid goes out. The servant 
crosses the stage solemnly. He turns.) 

THE SERVANT. YouT bride is in the 
chapel, my lord. The priest is waiting. 

HANS. Go and say that I am coming. 
(The wedding hells begin to toll as for a 
funeral. They all go out, except the exe- 
cutioner, the second fsherman and Ondine.) 

THE EXECUTIONER (taking hold of 
Ondine). Now then, Mistress — 

SECOND FISHERMAN. One moment. 
Executioner. (With a gesture of his hand, he 
turns the executioner into an automaton and 
waves him off the stage) The end is near, 
Ondine. 

ONDINE. Don't kill him. Old One. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. YoU haVCn't foT- 

gotten our pact? 
S. ONDINE. Don't judge men by our 
standards. Old One. Men don't deceive 
their wives unless they love them. When 
they love them most they deceive them. 
It's a form of fidelity, their deceit. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Ah, Ondine, what 
a woman you are ! 
^ ONDINE. It's only because he wished 
to honor me that he deceived me. It was 
to show the world how pure I was, how 
true. I really don't see how else he could 
have done it. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. You havc always 
suffered from a lack of imagination. 

ONDINE. When a man comes home in 
'^ the evening with his eyes full of gratitude 
and his arms full of flowers, and he kisses 
our hands and calls us his savior and his 
angel — we all know what that means. It's 
scarcely an hour since he has deceived us. 



And is there anything more beautiful in 
marriage ? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. He has made you 
suffer, my little Ondine. 

ONDINE. Yes. I have suffered. But 
remember we are speaking of humans. 
Among humans you are not unhappy 
when you suffer. On the contrary. To 
seek out in a w^orld full of joy the one 
thing that is certain to give you pain, and 
to hug that to your bosom with all your 
strength — that's the greatest human 
happiness. People think you're strange if 
you don't do it. Save him. Old One. 

SECOND FISHERMAN . He is going to die . 
Ondine. 

ONDINE. Old One ! 

SECOND FISHERMAN. What doCS it 

matter to you, Ondine? You have only a 
few minutes left of human memory. Your 
sisters will call you three times, and you 
will forget everything. 

ONDINE. Save him ! Save him ! 

SECOND FISHERMAN. If yOU wish, I will 

let him die at the same moment that you 
forget him. That seems humane. 

ONDINE. He is so young. So strong. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. You have Strained 
his heart, Ondine. 

ONDINE. I ? How could I ? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Since you show 
such interest in dogfish, perhaps you 
remember a couple who broke their 
hearts one day while swimming together 
peacefully in a calm sea. They had crossed 
the entire width of the ocean side by side 
in winter, through a tempest, without 
the slightest difficulty. And then one day 
in a blue gulf, they swam against a little 
wave. All the steel of the sea was in that 
ripple of water, and the effort was too 
much for them. For a week their eyes 
grew pale, their lips drooped. But there 
was nothing wrong with them, they 
said . . . but they were dying. And so it is 
with men, Ondine. What breaks the 
woodsman's heart, or the knight's, is not 
the great oak, nor the battle with the 
dragon: It is a slender reed, it is a child 
who loves him.-4JHe has only a few 
minutes left to live. 

ONDINE. But he has everything to live 
for now. His life is in order. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. His brain is full of 



238 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



/ those who are dying. When the kitchen- 
maid held forth just now on the price of 
eggs and cheese, you saw, it was all sheer 
(jDoetry in his ears. 

ONDINE. He has Bertha — 

SECOND FISHERMAN. She is Waiting for 
him in vain in the chapel. He is in the 
stable with his horse. His horse is speaking 
to him. Dear master, good-bye till we 
meet in the sky, his horse is saying. Today 
his horse has become a poet. 

ONDINE. I can hear them singing in the 
chapel. He is being married. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. What does this 
marriage mean to him now? The whole 
thing has slipped away from him like a 
ring too wide for the finger. He is 
wandering about by himself. He is talking 
to himself, he doesn't know what he's 
saying. It's a way men have of escaping 
when they come up suddenly against a 
reality. They become what is called mad. 
All at once they are logical. They don't 
compromise. They don't marry the 
woman they don't love. They reason 
simply and clearly like the plants and the 
water. Like us. 

ONDINE. Listen to him. He is cursing 
me. 

SECOND FISHERMAN. He loves you. 
He's mad. He's here. 

(He goes. Hans comes in slowly and stands 
behind Ondinefor a moment.) 

HANS. My name is Hans. 

ONDINE. It's a beautiful name. 

HANS. Ondine and Hans. The most 
beautiful names in the world, are they 
not? 

ONDINE. Yes. Hans and Ondine. 

HANS. Oh, no. Ondine first. That's the 
title. Ondine. It will be called Ondine, 
this story in which I appear from time to 
time. And I don't play a very brilliant 
part in it, do I, because, as you said, once, 
I'm not very bright; I'm just the man in 
the story. I loved Ondine because she 
wanted me ; I deceived her because I had 
to. I didn't count for much. I was born 
to live between the stable and the kennels 
— such was my fate, and I might have been 
happy there. But I strayed from the 
appointed path, and I was caught between 
nature and destiny. I was trapped. 

ONDINE. Forgive me, Hans. 



HANS. But why do you make this error, 
all of you ? Was I the man for love ? Lovers 
are of a different stamp — little threadbare 
professors full of fury, stockbrokers with 
heavy glasses ; such men have the time 
and capacity for enjoyment and suffering. 
But you never choose such men, never. 
Instead you fall with all your weight on 
some poor general called Antony, or 
some poor knight called Hans, ordinary 
men of action for whom love is a torment 
and a poison. And then it's all up with 
them. Between the wars and the chase 
and the tourneys and the hospital, did I 
ever have a spare moment in my life ? But 
you had to add also the poison in my 
veins, the flame in my eyes, the gall in my 
mouth! And then, oh God, how they 
shook me between them and bruised me, 
and flayed me between hell and heaven ! 
It wasn't very just of you, Ondine. 

ONDINE. Farewell, Hans. 

HANS. And then, you see? One day 
they leave you. The day vs^hen suddenly 
everything becomes clear, the day you 
realize that you would die if they left 
you — that day they leave you. The day 
when you find them again, and with them, 
everything that gives life its meaning, 
that day, they look you in the eye with a 
limpid glance, and they say farewell. 

ONDINE. I am going to forget 
everything, Hans. 

HANS. And a real farewell, a farewell 
forever ! Not like those lovers who part 
on the threshold of death, but are destined 
to meet again in another world, to jostle 
each other eternally in the same heaven. 
These part only in order never to part 
again — you don't call that a parting. But 
Ondine and I will never meet again. We 
part for eternity, we go to different 
worlds. We must do this properly, 
Ondine. It is the first real farewell that 
has even been said in this world. 

ONDINE. Live, Hans. You too will 
forget. 

HANS. Live ! It's easy to say. If at least I 
could work up a little interest in living — 
but I'm too tired to make the effort. 
Since you left me, Ondine, all the things 
my body once did by itself, it does now 
only by special order. The grass doesn't 
look green to my eyes unless I order them 



ONDINE 



239 



to see it green. And it's not very gay, you 
know, when the grass is black. It's an 
exhausting piece of management I've 
undertaken. I have to supervise five 
senses, two hundred bones, a thousand 
muscles. A single moment of inattention, 
and I forget to breathe. He died, they 
will say, because it was a nuisance to 
breathe . . . (He shakes his head) He died 
for love. Why did you let the fisherman 
catch you, Ondine? What did you wish to 
tell me? 

ONDINE. That an Ondine will mourn 
for you always. 

HANS. No. No one will mourn for me. 
I am the last of my house. I shall leave no 
trace behind me. There will be only an 
Ondine, and she will have forgotten. 

ONDINE. No, Hans. I have taken my 
precautions. You used to laugh at me 
because I always made the same move- 
ments in your house. You said I counted 
my steps. It was true. It was because I 
knew the day would come when I would 
have to go back. I was training myself. 
And now, in the depths of the Rhine or 
the ocean, without knowing why, I shall 
go on forever making the movements that 
I made when I lived with you. When I 
plunge to the bottom, I shall be going to 
the cellar — when I spring to the surface, 
I shall be going to the attic. I shall pass 
through doors in the water. I shall open 
windows. In this way I shall live a little 
with you always. Among the wild Ondines 
there will be one who will forever be 
your wife. Oh! What is it? 

HANS. I forgot for a moment. 

ONDINE. Forgot what? 

HANS. To breathe. Go on. Ondine, go 
on. 

ONDINE. Before I left, I took some of 
the things in our room. I threw them into 
the river. They seem strange to me in the 
water, these bits of wood and metal that 
speak to me of you, they float about 
aimlessly out of their element. It's because 
I'm not used to it yet: tomorrow they 
will seem as firm and stable as the currents 
in which they float. I shall not know what 
they mean, exactly, but I shall live among 
them, and it will be strange if I don't use 
them sometimes. I shall drink from your 
cup. I shall look into your mirror. 



Sometimes perhaps your clock will strike. 
Timeless, I shall not understand this 
sound but I shall hear it. And so, in my 
way, though death and the infinite come 
between us, I shall be true to you always. 

HANS. Thank you, Ondine. And I — 

THE FIRST VOICE. Ondine ! 

HANS. They are calling you, Ondine. 

ONDINE . They will call me three times . 
I shall remember until the last. Hans, let 
us not waste these moments ! Ask me 
something quickly. What is it, Hans? 
What is it? You're pale. 

HANS. I too am being called, Ondine. 

ONDINE. Speak ! Question me ! 

HANS. What did you say, Ondine, 
when you came out of the storm, the first 
time I saw you ? 

ONDINE. I said: How beautiful he is ! 

HANS. And when you saw me eating 
the trout? 

ONDINE. I said: How stupid he is! 

HANS. And when I said: It does no 
harm to think? 

ONDINE. I said: In after years we shall 
have this hour to remember. The hour 
before you kissed me. 

HANS. I can't wait now, Ondine. Kiss 
me now. 

THE SECOND VOICE. Ondine! 

ONDINE. It's all whirling about in my 
head! Speak, Hans, speak! 

HANS. I can't speak and kiss you at the 
same time. 

ONDINE. I'll be quiet. 
(He kisses her. The kitchen-maid comes in 
with her broom. J 

HANS. Look ! Look ! There she is ! 

ONDINE. Who? 

HANS. Her face is plain, her nature 
sour. But oh, her soul is like a flower! 
(He/alls) 

ONDINE. Help! Help! 

HANS. Ondine — 

THE THIRD VOICE. Ondine! 
(Hans dies. Ondine looks about in surprise.) 

ONDINE. How did I get here? How 
strange! It's solid. It's empty. It's the 
earth ? 
(The Second Fisherman appears.) 

SECOND FISHERMAN. It is the earth, 
Ondine. It's no place for you. 



240 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



iging 



m 



the 



ONDINE. No 

fThe Ondines are heard smgm^ 
distance. J 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Come, little one, 
let us leave it. 

ONDINE. Oh yes. Let us leave it. (She 
takes a Jew steps, then stops before the body oj 
Hans which is lying on the platform steps) 
Wait. Why is this handsome young man 
lying here ? Who is he ? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. His name is Hans. 



ONDINE. what a beautiful name! But 
w^hy doesn't he move? Is there something 
w^rong w^ith him ! 

SECOND FISHERMAN. He is dead. 

FIRST ONDINE. Come, Ondine. 

ONDINE. Oh, 1 like him so much! Can 
you bring him back to life. Old One? 

SECOND FISHERMAN. Impossible. 

ONDINE. what a pity! How I should 
have loved him ! 

CURTAIN 



\ 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX's 



The Madwoman of Chaillot 



In the adaptation by Maurice Valency 

First presented by Alfred de Liagre, Jr., at the Belasco Theatre, New York, on 
December 27, 1948, with the following cast: 



THE WAITER Ralph Smiley 

THE LITTLE MAN Harold Grau 

THE PROSPECTOR Vladimir Sokoloff 

THE PRESIDENT Clarence Derwent 

THE BARON Le Roi Operti 

THERESE Patricia Courtley 

THE STREET SINGER Eugcne Cibelli 

THE FLOWER GIRL Milliccnt Brower 

THE RAGPICKER John Carradine 

PAULETTE Barbara Pond 

THE DEAF-MUTE Martin Kosleck 

IRMA Leora Dana 

THE SHOE-LACE PEDDLER Mauricc Brenner 

THE BROKER Jonathan Harris 

THE STREET JUGGLER John Beahan 

DR. JADIN Sandro Giglio 

COUNTESS AURELIA, The Madwoman of Chaillot 

Martita Hunt 

THE DOORMAN William Chambers 

THE POLICEMAN Ralph Roberts 

PIERRE Alan Shayne 



THE PRESIDENTS , 



THE SERGEANT Richard Sanders 

THE SEWER-MAN James Westerfield 

MME. CONSTANCE, The Madwoman of P assy 

Estelle Winwood 

MLLE. GABRIELLE, The Madwoman of St. Sulpice 

Nydia Westman 

MME. JOSEPHINE, The Madwoman of La Concorde 

Doris Rich 

/ Clarence Derwent 
Jonathan Harris 
Le Roi Operti 

Vladimir Sokoloff 

William Chambers 

Maurice Brenner 

Archie Smith 

Sandro Giglio 

James Westerfield 

Patricia Courtley 

Barbara Pond 

Sonia Sorel 

Paul Byron 

Harold Grau 

William Chambers 

Gilbert Smith 



THE PROSPECTORS 



THE PRESS AGENTS 



THE LADIES 



THE ADOLPHE BERTAUTS . 



Directed by Alfred de Liagre, Jr. 
Settings and costumes designed by Christian Berard 



/> 



ACT ONE — The Cafe Terrace of Chez Francis. 
ACT TWO — The Countess' Cellar — 21 Rue de Chaillot. 



© 1949, by Maurice Valency 
Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc. 



CAUTION : Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that The Madwoman of Chaillot, being fully 
protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Empire including 
the Dominion of Canada, and all other countries of the Copyright Union, is subject to royalty. All rights, 
including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, 
and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid on the 
question of readings, permission for which must be secured from the author's agent in writing. All inquiries 
should be addressed to the author's agent, Miss Audrey Wood, Music Corporation of America Manage- 
ment, Ltd., 598 Madison Avenue, New York 22, N.Y. 



242 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 
ACT ONE 



Scene : The cafe terrace at ' ' Chez 
Francis,'' on the Place de V Alma in Paris. 
The Alma is in the stately quarter of Paris 
known as Chaillot, between the Champs 
Elysees and the Seine, across the river from 
the Eiffel Tower. 

^'Chez Francis'' has several rows of tables 
set out under its awning, and, as it is lunch 
time, a good many of them are occupied. At 
a table, downstage, a somewhat obvious Blonde 
with ravishing legs is sipping a vermouth- 
cassis and trying hard to engage the attention 
of the Prospector, who sits at an adjacent table 
taking little sips of water and rolling them 
over his tongue with the air of a connoisseur. 
Downstage right, in front of the tables on the 
sidewalk, is the usual Paris bench, a stout 
and uncomfortable affair provided by the 
municipality for the benefit of those who prefer 
to sit without drinking. A Policeman lounges 
about, keeping the peace without unnecessary 
exertion. 

TIME : It is a little before noon in the 
Spring of next year. 

AT RISE : The President and the Baron 
enter with importance, and are ushered to a 
front table by the Waiter. 



THE PRESIDENT. Waiter! Get rid of 
that man. 

WAITER. He is singing La Belle Polonaise. 

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't ask for the 
program. I asked you to get rid of him. 
fThe Waiter doesn't budge. The Singer goes 
by himself) As you were saying, Baron . . . ? 

THE BARON. Well, Until I was fifty . . . 
fThe Flower Girl enters through the cafe door, 
center) my life was relatively un- 
complicated. It consisted of selling off 
one by one the various estates left me by 
my father. Three years ago, I parted with 
my last farm. Two years ago, I lost my 
last mistress. And now — all that is left 



(to the Baron) 



THE PRESIDENT. Baron, sit down. This 
is a historic occasion. It must be properly 
celebrated. The waiter is going to bring 
out my special port. 

THE BARON. Splendid. 

THE PRESIDENT (offers his cigar case) . 
Cigar? My private brand. 

THE BARON. Thank you. You know, 
this all gives me the feeling of one of 
those enchanted mornings in the Arabian 
Nights when thieves foregather in the 
market place. Thieves — pashas . . . 
(He sniffs the cigar judiciously, and begins 
lighting it.) 

THE PRESIDENT (chuckles). Tell me 
about yourself. 

THE BARON. Well, where shall I begin? 
(The Street Singer enters. He takes off a 
battered black felt with a flourish and begins 
singing an ancient mazurka.) 

STREET SINGER (sings) 

Do you hear. Mademoiselle, 
Those musicians of hell ? 



me IS . . . 

THE FLOWER GIRL 

Violets, sir? 

THE PRESIDENT. Run along. 
(The Flower Girl moves on.) 

THE BARON (staring after her) . So that, 
in short, all I have left now is my name. 

THE PRESIDENT. Your name is precisely 
the name we need on our board of 
directors. 

THE BARON (with an inclination of his 
head). Very flattering. 

THE PRESIDENT. You wiU Understand 
when I tell you that mine has been a very 
different experience. I came up from the 
bottom. My mother spent most of her 
life bent over a washtub in order to send 
me to school. I'm eternally grateful to 
her, of course, but I must confess that I 
no longer remember her face. It was no 
doubt beautiful — but when I try to recall 
it, I see only the part she invariably 
showed me — her rear. 

THE BARON. Very touching. 

THE PRESIDENT. When I was thrown 
out of school for the fifth and last time, 
I decided to find out for myself what 
makes the world go round. I ran errands 
for an editor, a movie star, a financier . . . 
I began to understand a little what life is. 
Then, one day, in the subway, I saw a 
face . . . My rise in life dates from that 
day. 

THE BARON. Really? 

THE PRESIDENT. One look at that face, 
and I knew. One look at mine, and he 
knew. And so I made my first thousand — 



THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT 



243 



passing a boxful of counterfeit notes. A 
year later, I saw another such face. It got 
me a nice berth in the narcotics business. 
Since then, all I do is to look out for such 
faces. And now here I am — president of 
eleven corporations, director of fifty-two 
companies, and, beginning today, chair- 
man of the board of the international 
combine in which you have been so good 
as to accept a post. 

fThe Ragpicker passes y sees something under 
the President's table^ and stoops to pick it up.) 
Looking for something? 

THE RAGPICKER. Did you drop this? 

THE PRESIDENT. I never drop anything. 

THE RAGPICKER. Then this hundred- 
franc note isn't yours? 

THE PRESIDENT. Givc it here. 
(The Ragpicker gives him the note, and goes 
out. J 

THE BARON. Are you sure it's yours? 

THE PRESIDENT. All huudred-franc 
notes, Baron, are mine. 

THE BARON. Mr. President, there's 
something I've been wanting to ask you. 
What exactly is the purpose of our new 
company? Or is that an indiscreet 
question . . . ? 

THE PRESIDENT. IndiscTcct? Not a bit. 
Merely unusual. As far as I know, you're 
the first member of a board of directors 
ever to ask such a question. 

THE BARON. Do we plan to exploit a 
commodity? A utility? 

THE PRESIDENT. My dear sir, I haven't 
the faintest idea. 

THE BARON. But if you don't know — 
who does? 

THE PRESIDENT. Nobody. And at the 
moment, it's becoming just a trifle 
embarrassing. Yes, my dear Baron, since 
we are now close business associates, I 
must confess that for the time being we're 
in a little trouble. 

THE BARON. I was afraid of that. The 
stock issue isn't going well? 

THE PRESIDENT. No, no — on the con- 
trary. The stock issue is going beautifully. 
Yesterday morning at ten o'clock we 
offered 5^00,000 shares to the general 
public. By 10:05^ they were all snapped 
up at par. By 10: 20, when the police 
finally arrived, our offices were a sham- 
bles . . . Windows smashed — doors torn 



off their hinges — you never saw anything 
so beautiful in your life ! And this morning 
our stock is being quoted over the 
counter at 124 with no sellers, and the 
orders are still pouring in. 

THE BARON. But in that case — ^what is 
the trouble? 

THE PRESIDENT. The trouble is we 
have a tremendous capital, and not the 
slightest idea of what to do with it. 

THE BARON. You mean all those people 
are fighting to buy stock in a company 
that has no object? 

THE PRESIDENT. My dear Baron, do 
you imagine that when a subscriber buys 
a share of stock, he has any idea of getting 
behind a counter or digging a ditch? A 
stock certificate is not a tool, like a 
shovel, or a commodity, like a pound of 
cheese. What we sell a customer is not a 
share in a business, but a view of the 
Elysian Fields. A financier is a creative 
artist. Our function is to stimulate the 
imagination. We are poets ! 

THE BARON. But in Order to stimulate 
the imagination, don't you need some 
field of activity? 

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all. What you 
need for that is a name. A name that will 
stir the pulse like a trumpet call, set the 
brain awhirl like a movie star, inspire 
reverence like a cathedral. United General 
International Consolidated ! Of course "that's 
been used. That's what a corporation 
needs. 

THE BARON. And do we have such a 
name ? 

THE PRESIDENT. So far we have only a 
blank space. In that blank space a name 
must be printed. This name must be a 
masterpiece. And if I seem a little nervous 
today, it's because — somehow — I've 
racked my brains, but it hasn't come to 
me. Oho! Look at that! Just like the 
answer to a prayer . . . ! (The Baron turns 
and stares in the direction of the Prospector) 
You see? There's one. And what a 
beauty ! 

THE BARON. You mean that girl? 

THE PRESIDENT. No, no, not the girl. 
That face. You see . . . ? The one that's 
drinking water. 

THE BARON. You call that a face? 
That's a tombstone. 



244 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



THE PRESIDENT. It's a milestone. It's a 
signpost. But is it pointing the way to 
steel, or wheat, or phosphates? That's 
what we have to find out. Ah ! He sees me. 
He understands. He will be over. 

THE BARON. And when he comes . . .? 

THE PRESIDENT. He will tell me what 
to do. 

THE BARON. You mean business is 
done this way? You mean, you would 
trust a stranger with a matter of this 
importance ? 

THE PRESIDENT. Baron, I trust neither 
my wife, nor my daughter, nor my closest 
friend. My confidential secretary has no 
idea where I live. But a face like that I 
would trust with my inmost secrets. 
Though we have never laid eyes on each 
other before, that man and I know each 
other to the depths of our souls. He's no 
stranger — he's my brother, he's myself. 
You'll see. He'll be over in a minute. 
fThe Deaf-Mute enters and passes slowly 
among the tables, placing a small envelope 
before each customer. He comes to the 
President's table) What is this anyway? A 
conspiracy? We don't want your en- 
velopes. Take them away. (The Deaf-Mute 
makes a short but pointed speech in sign 
language) Waiter, what the devil's he 
saying ? 

WAITER. Only Irma understands him. 

THE PRESIDENT. Irma? Who's Irma? 

WAITER (calls). Irma! It's the waitress 
inside, sir. Irma! 

(Irma comes out. She is twenty. She has the 
face and figure of an angel.) 

IRMA. Yes? 

WAITER. These gentlemen would . . . 

THE PRESIDENT. Tell this fellow to get 
out of here, for God's sake! (The Deaf 
Mute makes another manual oration) What's 
he trying to say, anyway? 

IRMA. He says it's an exceptionally 
beautiful morning, sir . . . 

THE PRESIDENT. Who asked him? 

IRMA. But, he says, it was nicer before 
the gentleman stuck his face in it. 

THE PRESIDENT. Call the manager! 
(Irma shrugs. She goes back into the restaurant. 
The Deaf-Mute walks ojf. Left. Meanwhile a 
Shoelace Peddler has arrived.) 

PEDDLER. Shoelaces? Postcards? 



THE BARON. I think I could use a 
shoelace. 

THE PRESIDENT. No, nO . . . 

PEDDLER. Black? Tan? 

THE BARON (showing his shoes) . What 
would you recommend? 

PEDDLER. Anybody's guess. 

THE BARON. Well, give me one of 
each. 

THE PRESIDENT (putting a hand on the 
Baron's arm). Baron, although I am your 
chairman, I have no authority over your 
personal life — none, that is, except to fix 
the amount of your director's fees, and 
eventually to assign a motor car for your 
use. Therefore, I am asking you, as a 
personal favor to me, not to purchase 
anything from this fellow. 

THE BARON. How Can I resist so 
gracious a request? (The Peddler shrugs, 
and passes on) But I really don't under- 
stand .... What difference would it 
make? 

THE PRESIDENT. Look here. Baron. 
Now that you're with us, you must 
understand that between this irresponsible 
riff-raff and us there is an impenetrable 
barrier. We have no dealings whatever 
with them. 

THE BARON. But without US, the poor 
devil will starve. 

THE PRESIDENT. No, he won't. He 
expects nothing from us. He has a clien- 
tele of his own. He sells shoelaces ex- 
clusively to those who have no shoes. Just 
as the necktie peddler sells only to those 
who wear no shirts. And that's why these 
street hawkers can afford to be insolent, 
disrespectful and independent. They 
don't need us. They have a world of their 
own. Ah! My broker. Splendid. He's 
beaming. (The Broker walks up and grasps 
the President's hand with enthusiasm) 

BROKER. Mr. President! My heartiest 
congratulations ! What a day ! What a day ! 
(The Street Juggler appears. Right. He 
removes his coat, folds it carefully, and puts 
it on the bench. Then he opens a suitcase, 
from which he extracts a number of colored 
clubs.) 

THE PRESIDENT (presenting the Broker). 
Baron Tommard, of our Board of 
Directors. My broker. (The Broker bows. 
So does the Juggler. The Broker sits down and 



THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT 



HS 



signals Jor a drink. The Juggler prepares to 
juggle) What's happened? 

BROKER. Listen to this. Ten o'clock 
this morning. The market opens. (As he 
speaks^ the Juggler provides a visual counter- 
part to the Broker's lineSy his clubs rising and 
falling in rhythm to the words) Half million 
shares issued at par, par value a hundred, 
quoted on the curb at 124 and we start 
buying at 126, 127, 129 — and it's going 
up — up — up — (The Juggler's clubs rise 
higher and higher) — 132 — 133 — 138 — 
141 — 141 — 141 — 141 . . . 

THE BARON. May I ask . . . ? 

THE PRESIDENT. No, no — any explana- 
tion would only confuse you. 

BROKER. Ten forty-five we start 
selling short on rumors of a Communist 
plot, market bearish . . . 141 — 138 — 133 
— 132 — and it's downn — down — down — 
102 — and we start buying back at 93. 
Eleven o'clock, rumors denied — 95^ — 98 
— loi — 106 — 124 — 141 — and by 11:30 
we've got it all back — net profit three 
and a half million francs. 

THE PRESIDENT. Classical. Pure. (The 
Juggler bows again. A Little Man leans over 
from a near-by table, listening intently, and 
trembling with excitement) And how many 
shares do we reserve to each member of 
the board? 

BROKER. Fifty, as agreed. 

THE PRESIDENT. Bit Stingy, don't you 
think? 

BROKER. All right — three thousand. 

THE PRESIDENT. That's a little better. 
(To the Baron) You get the idea? 

THE BARON. I'm beginning to get it. 

BROKER. And now we come to the 
exciting part - . . ( The Juggler prepares to 
juggle with balls of jire) Listen carefully : 
With i£ percent of our funded capital 
under Section 32 I buy ^0,000 United at 
36 which I immediately reconvert into 
32,000 National Amalgamated two's 
preferred which I set up as collateral on 
1^0,000 General Consols which I deposit 
against a credit of fifteen billion to buy 
Eastern Hennequin which I immediately 
turn into Argentine wheat realizing 136 
percent of the original investment which 
naturally accrues as capital gain and not as 
corporate income thus saving twelve 
millions in taxes, and at once convert the 



2^ percent cotton reserve into lignite, 
and as our people swing into action in 
London and New York, I beat up the 
price on raw silk from 26 to 92 — 114 
— 203 — 306 — (The Juggler by now is 
juggling hisjireballs in the sky. The balls no 
longer return to his hands) 404 . . . (The 
Little Man can stand no more. He rushes over 
and dumps a sackful oj money on the table) 

LITTLE MAN. Here — take it — please, 
take it! 

BROKER (frigidly). Who is this man? 
What is this money? 

LITTLE MAN. It's my life's savings. 
Every cent. I put it all in your hands. 

BROKER. Can't you see we're busy? 

LITTLE MAN. But I beg you . . . It's my 
only chance . . . Please don't turn me 
away, 

BROKER. Oh, all right. (He sweeps the 
money into his pocket) Well? 

LITTLE MAN. I thought — perhaps you'd 
give me a little receipt . . . 

THE PRESIDENT. My dear man, people 
like us don't give receipts for money. We 
take them. 

LITTLE MAN. Oh, pardon. Of course. 
I was confused. Here it is. (Scribbles a 
receipt) Thank you — thank you — thank 
you. (He rushes off joyfully . The Street Singer 
reappears) 

STREET SINGER (sings) 

Do you hear, Mademoiselle, 
Those musicians of hell ? 

THE PRESIDENT. What, again? Why 
does he keep repeating those two lines 
like a parrot? 

WAITER. What else can he do? He 
doesn't know any more and the song's 
been out of print for years . 

THE BARON. Couldn't he sing a song 
he knows? 

WAITER. He likes this one. He hopes 
if he keeps singing the beginning someone 
will turn up to teach him the end. 

THE PRESIDENT. Tell him to move on. 
We don't know the song. 
(The Professor strolls by, swinging his cane. 
He overhears.) 

PROFESSOR (stops and addresses the 
President politely) . Nor do I, my dear sir. 
Nor do I. And yet, I'm in exactly the 
same predicament. I remember just two 
lines of my favorite song, as a child. A 



246 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



mazurka also, in case you're interested . . . 

THE PRESIDENT. I'm not. 

PROFESSOR. Why is it, I wonder, that 
one always forgets the words of a ma- 
zurka? I suppose they just get lost in that 
damnable rhythm. All I remember is: 
(He sings J 

From England to Spain 
I have drunk, it was bliss . . . 
STREET SINGER fwalks over, and picks up 
the tune J . 

Red wine and champagne 
And many a kiss. 
PROFESSOR. Oh, God! It all comes 
back to me . . . ! (He sings) 

Red lips and white hands I have 

[known 
Where the nightingales dwell . . . 
THE PRESIDENT (holding his hands to his 
ears) . Please — please . . . 

STREET SINGER 

And to each one I've whispered, 

["My own," 

And to each one, I've murmured: 

["Farewell." 
THE PRESIDENT. Farewell. Farewell. 

STREET SINGER and PROFESSOR (duo) . 

But there's one I shall never forget . . 

THE PRESIDENT. This isn't a cafe. It's a 
circus ! 

(The two go off^ still singing: ^^ There is one 
that's engraved in my heart.'' The Prospector 
gets up slowly and walks toward the President's 
table. He looks down without a word. There is 
a tense silence. J 

PROSPECTOR. Well? 

THE PRESIDENT. I need a name. 

PROSPECTOR (nods, with complete compre- 
hension) . I need fifty thousand. 

THE PRESIDENT. For a Corporation. 

PROSPECTOR. For a woman. 

THE PRESIDENT. Immediately. 

PROSPECTOR. Before evening. 

THE PRESIDENT. Something . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Unusual? 

THE PRESIDENT. Something . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Provocative? 

THE PRESIDENT. Something . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Practical. 

THE PRESIDENT. YeS. 

PROSPECTOR. Fifty thousand. Cash. 
THE PRESIDENT. I'm listening. 
PROSPECTOR. International Substrate of 
PariSy Inc. 



THE PRESIDENT ( snaps his fingers ) . That's 
it! (To the Broker) Pay him off. (The 
Broker pays with the Little Man's money) 
Now — what does it mean? 

PROSPECTOR. It means what it says. 
I'm a prospector. 

THE PRESIDENT (rises). A prospector ! 
Allow me to shake your hand. Baron. You 
are in the presence of one of nature's 
noblemen. Shake his hand. This is Baron 
Tommard. (They shake hands) It is this 
man, my dear Baron, who smells out in 
the bowels of the earth those deposits of 
metal or liquid on which can be founded 
the only social unit of which our age is 
capable — the corporation. Sit down, 
please. (They all sit) And now that we 
have a name . . . 

PROSPECTOR. You need a property. 

THE PRESIDENT. Precisely. 

PROSPECTOR. I have one. 

THE PRESIDENT. A claim? 

PROSPECTOR. Terrific. 
THE PRESIDENT. Foreign? 
PROSPECTOR. French. 
THE BARON. In Indo- China? 

BROKER. Morocco? 

THE PRESIDENT. In France? 
PROSPECTOR (matter of fact). In Paris. 
THE PRESIDENT. In Paris ? You've been 
prospecting in Paris? 

THE BARON. FoT women, no doubt. 

THE PRESIDENT. FOT art? 

BROKER. For gold? 

PROSPECTOR. Oil. 

BROKER. He's crazy. 

THE PRESIDENT. Sh ! He's inspired. 

PROSPECTOR. You think I'm crazy. 
Well, they thought Columbus was crazy. 

THE BARON. Oil in Paris? 

BROKER. But how is it possible? 

PROSPECTOR. It's not Only possible. 
It's certain. 

THE PRESIDENT. Tell US. 

PROSPECTOR. You don't know, my 
dear sir, what treasures Paris conceals. 
Paris is the least prospected place in the 
world. We've gone over the rest of the 
planet with a fine-tooth comb. But has 
anyone ever thought of looking for oil in 
Paris? Nobody. Before me, that is. 

THE PRESIDENT. Genius ! 

PROSPECTOR. No. Just a practical man. 
I use my head. 



THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT 



247 



THE BARON. But why has nobody ever 
thought of this before ? 

PROSPECTOR. The treasures of the 
earth, my dear sir, are not easy to find nor 
to get at. They are invariably guarded by 
dragons. Doubtless there is some reason 
for this. For once vv^e've dug out and 
consumed the internal ballast of the 
planet, the chances are it w^ill shoot off on 
some irresponsible tangent and smash 
itself up in the sky. Well, that's the risk 
we take. Anyway, that's not my business. 
A prospector has enough to worry about. 

THE BARON. I know — snakes — taran- 
tulas — fleas . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Worse than that, sir. 
Civilization. 

THE PRESIDENT. Does that annoy you? 

PROSPECTOR. Civilization gets in our 
way all the time. In the first place, it 
covers the earth with cities and towns 
which are damned awkward to dig up 
when you want to see what's underneath. 
It's not only the real-estate people — you 
can always do business with them — it's 
human sentimentality. How do you do 
business with that ? 

THE PRESIDENT. I see what you mean. 

PROSPECTOR. They say that where we 
pass, nothing ever grows again. What of 
it ? Is a park any better than a coal mine ? 
What's a mountain got that a slag pile 
hasn't? What would you rather have in 
your garden — an almond tree or an oil 
well? 

THE PRESIDENT. Well . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Exactly. But what's the 
use of arguing with these fools ? Imagine 
the choicest place you ever saw for an 
excavation, and what do they put there? 
A playground for children ! Civilization ! 

THE PRESIDENT. Just show US the point 
where you want to start digging. We'll do 
the rest. Even if it's in the middle of the 
Louvre. Where's the oil? 

PROSPECTOR. Perhaps you think it's 
easy to make an accurate fix in an area 
like Paris where everything conspires to 
put you off the scent? Women — perfume 
— flowers — history. You can talk all you 
like about geology, but an oil deposit, 
gentlemen, has to be smelled out. I have a 
good nose. I go further. I have a phe- 
nomenal nose. But the minute I get the 



right whiff — the minute I'm on the scent 
— a fragrance rises from what I take to be 
the spiritual deposits of the past — and 
I'm completely at sea. Now take this very 
point, for example, this very spot. 

THE BARON. You mean — right here in 
Chaillot? 

PROSPECTOR. Right under here. 

THE PRESIDENT. Good heavens ! 
(He looks under his chair. J 

PROSPECTOR. It's taken me months to 
locate this spot. 

THE BARON. But what in the world 
makes you think . . . ? 

PROSPECTOR. Do you know this place, 
Baron ? 

THE BARON. Well, I've been sitting 
here for thirty years. 

PROSPECTOR. Did you ever taste the 
water ? 

THE BARON. The Water ? Good God, no ! 

PROSPECTOR. It's plain to see that you 
are no prospector! A prospector. Baron, 
is addicted to water as a drunkard to wine. 
Water, gentlemen, is the one substance 
from which the earth can conceal nothing. 
It sucks out its innermost secrets and 
brings them to our very lips. Well — 
beginning at Notre Dame, where I first 
caught the scent of oil three months ago, 
I worked my way across Paris, glassful by 
glassful, sampling the water, until at last 
I came to this cafe. And here — ^just two 
days ago — I took a sip. My heart began to 
thump. Was it possible that I was 
deceived ? I took another, a third, a fourth, 
a fifth. I was trembling like a leaf. But 
there was no mistake. Each time that I 
drank, my taste-buds thrilled to the most 
exquisite flavor known to a prospector — 
the flavor of — (With utmost lyricism) 
Petroleum ! 

THE PRESIDENT. Waiter! Some water 
and four glasses. Hurry. This round, 
gentlemen, is on me. And as a toast — I 
shall propose International Substrate of 
Paris, Incorporated. (The Waiter brings 
a decanter and the glasses. The President pours 
out the water amid profound silence. They 
taste it with the air of connoisseurs savoring 
something that has never before passed human 
lips. Then they look at each other doubtfully. 
The Prospector pours himself a second glass and 
drinks it off) Well . . . 



248 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



BROKER. Ye-es . . . 

THE BARON. Mm . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Get it? 

THE BARON. Tastcs quecr. 

PROSPECTOR. That's it. To the un- 
practiced palate it tastes queer. But to the 
taste-buds of the expert — ah ! 

THE BARON. Still, there's one thing I 
don't quite understand . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Yes? 

THE BARON. This cafe doesn't have its 
own well, does it? 

PROSPECTOR. Of course not. This is 
Paris water. 

BROKER. Then why should it taste 
different here than anywhere else? 

PROSPECTOR. Because, my dear sir, 
the pipes that carry this water pass deep 
through the earth, and the earth just here 
is soaked with oil, and this oil permeates 
the pores of the iron and flavors the water 
it carries. Ever so little, yes — but quite 
enough to betray its presence to the 
sensitive tongue of the specialist. 

THE BARON. 1 SeC. 

PROSPECTOR. I don't say everyone is 
capable of tasting it. No. But I — I can 
detect the presence of oil in water that 
has passed within fifteen miles of a 
deposit. Under special circumstances, 
twenty. 

THE PRESIDENT. Phenomenal ! 

PROSPECTOR. And so here I am with 
the greatest discovery of the age on my 
hands— but the blasted authorities won't 
let me drill a single well unless I show 
them the oil ! Now how can I show them 
the oil unless they let me dig? Completely 
stymied! Eh? 

THE PRESIDENT. What? A man like 
you? 

PROSPECTOR. That's what they think. 
That's what they want. Have you noticed 
the strange glamor of the women this 
morning? And the quality of the sun- 
shine? And this extraordinary convo- 
cation of vagabonds buzzing about pro- 
tectively like bees around a hive? Do you 
know why it is? Because they know. It's 
a plot to distract us, to turn us from our 
purpose. Well, let them try. I know 
there's oil here. And I'm going to dig it 
up, even if I . . . (He smiles) Shall I tell 
you my little plan? 



THE PRESIDENT. By all mcans. 

PROSPECTOR. Well . . . For heaven's 
sake, what's that? 

(At this pointy the Madwoman enters. She is 
dressed in the grand Jashion of l88£^ a 
taffeta skirt with an immense train — which she 
has gathered up by means of a clothespin — 
ancient button shoes, and a hat in the style of 
Marie Antoinette. She wears a lorgnette on a 
chain, and an enormous cameo pin at her 
throat. In her hand she carries a small basket. 
She walks in with great dignity, extracts a 
dinner bell from the bosom of her dress, and 
rings it sharply. Irma appears. J 

COUNTESS. Are my bones ready, Irma? 

IRMA. There won't be much today, 
Countess. We had broilers. Can you 
wait? While the gentleman inside finishes 
eating ? 

COUNTESS. And my gizzard ? 

IRMA. I'll try to get it away from him. 

COUNTESS. If he eats my gizzard, save 
me the giblets. They will do for the 
tomcat that lives under the bridge. He 
likes a few giblets now and again. 

IRMA. Yes, Countess. 
(Irma goes back into the cafe. The Countess 
takes a few steps and stops in front of the 
President's table. She examines him with 
undisguised disapproval. J 

THE PRESIDENT. Waiter. Ask that 
woman to move on. 

WAITER. Sorry, sir. This is her cafe. 

THE PRESIDENT. Is shc the manager of 
the cafe? 

WAITER. She's the Madwoman of 
Chaillot. 

THE PRESIDENT. A Madwoman ? She's 
mad? 

WAITER. Who says she's mad? 

THE PRESIDENT. You just Said SO your- 
self. 

WAITER. Look, sir. You asked me who 
she was. And I told you. What's mad 
about her? She's the Madwoman of 
Chaillot. 

THE PRESIDENT. Call a policcman. 
(The Countess whistles through her fingers. 
At once, the Doorman runs out of the cafe. He 
has three scarves in his hands.) 

COUNTESS. Have you found it? My 
feather boa? 

DOORMAN. Not yet, Countess. Three 
scarves. But no boa. 



THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT 



249 



COUNTESS. It's five years since I lost it. 
Surely you've had time to find it. 

DOORMAN. Take one of these, Count- 
ess. Nobody's claimed them. 

COUNTESS. A boa like that doesn't 
vanish, you know^. A feather boa nine feet 
long! 

DOORMAN. Hovs^ about this blue one? 

COUNTESS. With my pink ruffle and 
my green veil? You're joking ! Let me see 
the yellow^. (She tries it on) How does it 
look? 

DOORMAN. Terrific. 
(With a magnificent gesture, she Jiings the 
scarf about her, upsetting the ? resident' s glass 
and drenching his trousers with water. She 
stalks o^ without a glance at him.) 

THE PRESIDENT. Waiter! I'm making a 
complaint. 

v/AiTER. Against whom? 

THE PRESIDENT. Against her! Against 
you ! The whole gang of you ! That singer ! 
That shoelace peddler! That female 
lunatic ! Or whatever you call her ! 

THE BARON. Calm yourself, Mr. 
President . . . 

THE PRESIDENT. I'll do nothing of the 
sort! Baron, the first thing we have to do 
is to get rid of these people ! Good 
heavens, look at them ! Every size, shape, 
color and period of history imaginable. 
It's utter anarchy ! I tell you, sir, the only 
safeguard of order and discipline in the 
modern world is a standardized worker 
with interchangeable parts. That would 
solve the entire problem of management. 
Here, the manager . . . And there — one 
composite drudge grunting and sweating 
all over the world. Just we two. Ah, how 
beautiful ! How easy on the eyes ! How 
restful for the conscience ! 

THE BARON. Yes, ycs — of course. 

THE PRESIDENT. Order. Symmetry. 
Balance. But instead of that, what? Here 
in Chaillot, the very citadel of manage- 
ment, these insolent phantoms of the past 
come to beard us with their raffish in- 
dividualism — with the right of the 
voiceless to sing, of the dumb to make 
speeches, of trousers to have no seats and 
bosoms to have dinner bells ! 

THE BARON. But, after all, do these 
people matter? 

THE PRESIDENT. My dear sir, wherever 



the poor are happy, and the servants are 
proud, and the mad are respected, our 
power is at an end. Look at that! That 
waiter! That madwoman! That flower 
girl! Do I get that sort of service? And 
suppose that I — president of twelve 
corporations and ten times a millionaire 
— were to stick a gladiolus in my button- 
hole and start yelling — (He tinkles his 
spoon in a glass violently, yelling) Are my 
bones ready, Irma? 

THE BARON (reprovingly). 

Mr. President . . . 
(People at the adjoining tables turn and stare 
with raised eyebrows. The Waiter starts to 
come over.) 

THE PRESIDENT. YoU SCC? Now. 

PROSPECTOR. We were discussing my 
plan. 

THE PRESIDENT. Ah ycs, youT plan. 
(He glances in the direction of the Mad- 
woman s table) Careful — she's looking at 
us. 

PROSPECTOR. Do you know what a 
bomb is? 

THE PRESIDENT. I'm told they cxplodc. 

PROSPECTOR. Exactly. You see that 
white building across the river. Do you 
happen to know what that is ? 

THE PRESIDENT. I do not. 

PROSPECTOR. That's the office of the 
City Architect. That man has stubbornly 
refused to give me a permit to drill for 
oil anywhere within the limits of the city 
of Paris. I've tried everything with him — 
influence, bribes, threats. He says I'm 
crazy. And now . . . 

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, my God ! What is 
this one trying to sell us ? 
(A little Old Man enters left, and doffs his hat 
politely. He is somewhat ostentatiously 
respectable — gloved, pomaded, and carefully 
dressed, with a white handkerchief peeping out 
oj his breast pocket.) 

DR. JADIN. Nothing but health, sir. Or 
rather the health of the feet. But 
remember — as the foot goes, so goes the 
man. May I present myself . . . ? Dr. 
Gaspard Jadin, French Navy, retired. 
Former specialist in the extraction of 
ticks and chiggers. At present special- 
izing in the extraction of bunions and 
corns. In case of sudden emergency. 
Martial the waiter will furnish my home 



2^0 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



address. My office is here, second row, 
third table, week days, twelve to five. 
Thank you very much. 
(^He sits at his table. J 

WAITER. Your vermouth, Doctor? 

DR. JADIN. My vermouth. My ver- 
mouths. How are your gallstones today, 
Martial ? 

WAITER. Fine. Fine. They rattle like 
anything. 

DR. JADIN. Splendid. (He spies the 
Countess) Good morning, Countess. How's 
the floating kidney? Still afloat? (She nods 
graciously) Splendid. Splendid. So long as 
it floats, it can't sink. 

THE PRESIDENT. This is impossible ! 
Let's go somewhere else. 

PROSPECTOR. No. It's nearly noon. 

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. It IS. Five to 
twelve. 

PROSPECTOR. In five minutes' time 
you're going to see that City Architect 
blown up, building and all — boom ! 

BROKER. Are you serious? 

PROSPECTOR. That imbecile has no 
one to blame but himself. Yesterday noon, 
he got my ultimatum — he's had twenty- 
four hours to think it over. No permit? 
All right. Within two minutes my agent 
is going to drop a little package in his 
coal bin. And three minutes after that, 
precisely at noon . . . 

THE BARON. You prospectors certainly 
use modern methods. 

PROSPECTOR. The method may be 
modern. But the idea is old. To get at the 
treasure, it has always been necessary to 
slay the dragon. I guarantee that after 
this, the City Architect will be more 
reasonable. The new one, I mean. 

THE PRESIDENT. Don't you think we're 
sitting a little close for comfort? 

PROSPECTOR. Oh no, no. Don't worry. 
And, above all, don't stare. We may be 
watched. (A clock strikes) Why, that's 
noon. Something's wrong! Good God! 
What's this? (A Policeman staggers in 
bearing a lijeless body on his shoulders in the 
manner prescribed as ^^The Fireman s Lijt^^ ) 
It's Pierre! My agent! (He walks over with 
affected nonchalance) I say. Officer, what's 
that you've got? 

POLICEMAN. Drowned man. 
(He puts him down on the bench.) 



WAITER . He 'snot drowned . His clothes 
are dry. He's been slugged. 

POLICEMAN. Slugged is also correct. 
He was just jumping off the bridge when 
1 came along and pulled him back. I 
slugged him, naturally, so he wouldn't 
drag me under. Life Saving Manual, 
Rule £: "In cases where there is danger 
of being dragged under, it is necessary to 
render the subject unconscious by means 
of a sharp blow." He's had that. 
(He loosens the clothes and begins applying 
artijicial respiration.) 

PROSPECTOR. The stupid idiot! What 
the devil did he do with the bomb? 
That's what comes of employing 
amateurs ! 

THE PRESIDENT. You don't think he'll 
give you away ? 

PROSPECTOR. Don't worry. (He walks 
over to the policeman) Say, what do you 
think you're doing? 

POLICEMAN. Lifesaving. Artificial 
respiration. First aid to the drowning. 

PROSPECTOR. But he's not drowning. 

POLICEMAN. But he thinks he is. 

PROSPECTOR. You'll never bring him 
round that way, my friend. That's meant 
for people who drown in water. It's no 
good at all for those who drown without 
water. 

POLICEMAN. What am I supposed do? 
I've just been sworn in. It's my first day 
on the beat. I can't afford to get in 
trouble. I've got to go by the book. 

PROSPECTOR. Perfectly simple. Take 
him back to the bridge where you found 
him and throw him in. Then you can save 
his life and you'll get a medal. This way, 
you'll only get fined for slugging an 
innocent man. 

POLICEMAN. What do you mean, 
innocent? He was just going to jump 
when I grabbed him. 

PROSPECTOR. Have you any proof of 
that? 

POLICEMAN. Well, I saw him. 

PROSPECTOR. Written proof? Wit- 
nesses ? 

POLICEMAN. No, but . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Then don't waste time 
arguing. You're in trouble. Quick — 
before anybody notices — throw him in 
and dive after him. It's the only way out. 



THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT 



2SI 



POLICEMAN. But I don't swim. 

THE PRESIDENT. You'll Icam how on 
the way down. Before you were bom, did 
you know how to breathe ? 

POLICEMAN (convinced) . All right. 
Here we go. 
(He starts lifting the body.) 

DR. JADIN. One moment, please. I 
don't like to interfere, but it's my 
professional duty to point out that medical 
science has definitely established the fact 
of intra-uterine respiration. Conse- 
quently, this policeman, even before he 
was bom, knew not only how to breathe 
but also how to cough, hiccup and belch. 

THE PRESIDENT. Supposc he did — how 
does it concern you? 

DR. JADIN. On the other hand, medical 
science has never established the fact of 
intra-uterine swimming or diving. Under 
the circumstances, we are forced to the 
opinion, Officer, that if you dive in you 
will probably drown. 

POLICEMAN. You think so? 

PROSPECTOR, who asked you for an 
opinion? 

THE PRESIDENT. Pay no attention to 
that quack, Officer. 

DR. JADIN. Quack, sir? 

PROSPECTOR. This is not a medical 
matter. It's a legal problem. The officer 
has made a grave error. He's new. We're 
trying to help him. 

BROKER. He's probably afraid of the 
water. 

POLICEMAN. Nothing of the sort. 
Officially, I'm afraid of nothing. But I 
always follow doctor's orders. 

DR. JADIN. You see. Officer, when a 
child is born . . . 

PROSPECTOR. Now, what does he care 
about when a child is born? He's got a 
dying man on his hands . . . Officer, if 
you want my advice . . . 

POLICEMAN. It so happens, I care a lot 
about when a child is bom. It's part of 
my duty to aid and assist any woman in 
childbirth or labor. 

THE PRESIDENT. Can you imagine ! 

POLICEMAN. Is it true. Doctor, what 
they say, that when you have twins, the 
first bom is considered to be the 
youngest ? 

DR. JADIN. Quite correct. And what's 



more, if the twins happen to be bom at 
midnight on December 31st, the older is 
a whole year younger. He does his military 
service a year later. That's why you have 
to keep your eyes open. And that's the 
reason why a queen always gives birth 
before witness . . . 

POLICEMAN. God ! The things a police- 
man is supposed to know! Doctor, what 
does it mean if, when I get up in the 
morning sometimes . . . 

PROSPECTOR (nudging the President 
meaning juUj ) . The old woman . . . 

BROKER. Come on. Baron. 

THE PRESIDENT. I think wc'd better all 
run along. 

PROSPECTOR. Leave him to me. 

THE PRESIDENT. I'll scc you later. 
(The President steals off with the Broker and 
the Baron.) 

POLICEMAN (still in conference with Dr. 

Jadin). But what's really worrying me, 

Doctor, is this — don't you think it's a bit 

risky for a man to marry after forty-five? 

(The Broker runs in breathlessly . ) 

BROKER. Officer! Officer! 

POLICEMAN, what's the trouble? 

BROKER. Quick! Two women are 
calling for help — on the sidewalk — 
Avenue Wilson! 

POLICEMAN. Two womcn at once? 
Standing up or lying down? 

BROKER. You'd better go and see. 
Quick ! 

PROSPECTOR. You'd better take the 
Doctor with you. 

POLICEMAN. Come along, Doctor, 
come along . . . (Pointing to Pierre) Tell 
him to wait till I get back. Come along. 
Doctor. 

(He runs out^ the Doctor following. The 
Prospector moves over toward Pierre^ but Irma 
crosses in front of him and takes the boj^s 
hand.) 

IRMA. How beautiful he is ! Is he dead, 
Martial ? 

WAITER (handing her a pocket mirror). 
Hold this mirror to his mouth. If it clouds 
over . . . 

IRMA. It clouds over. 

WAITER . He ' s alive . 
(He holds out his hand for the mirror.) 

IRMA. Just a sec — (She rubs it clean and 
looks at herself intently. Before handing it 



2^2 



JEAN GIRAUDOUX 



back, she fixes her hair and applies her lip- 
stick. Meanwhile the Prospector tries to get 
around the other side, hut the Countess eagle 
eye drives him off. He shrugs his shoulders and 
exits with the Baron) Oh, look — he's 
opened his eyes ! 

(Pierre opens his eyes, stares intently at Irma 
and closes them again with the expression oj a 
man who is among the angels.) 

PIERRE (murmurs) . Oh ! How beautiful ! 

VOICE (from within the cafe) . Irma ! 

IRMA. Coming. Coming. (She goes in, 
not without a certain reluctance. The Countess 
at once takes her place on the bench, and also 
the young man s hand. Pierre sits up suddenly, 
and fnds himself staring, not at Irma, but 
into the very peculiar face of the Countess. 
His expression changes.) 

COUNTESS. You're looking at my iris? 
Isn't it beautiful? 

PIERRE. Very. (He drops back, ex- 
hausted.) 

COUNTESS. The Sergeant was good 
enough to say it becomes me. But I no 
longer trust his taste. Yesterday, the 
flower girl gave me a lily, and he said it 
didn't suit me. 

viEBJR.'E (weakly) . It's beautiful. 

COUNTESS. He'll be very happy to 
know that you agree with him. He's really 
quite sensitive. (She calls) Sergeant! 

PIERRE. No, please — don't call the 
police. 

COUNTESS. But I must. I think I hurt 
his feelings. 

PIERRE. Let me go, Madame. 

COUNTESS. No, no. Stay where you are. 
Sergeant ! 
(Pierre struggles weakly to get up.) 

PIERRE. Please let me go. 

COUNTESS. I'll do nothing of the sort. 
When you let someone go, you never see 
him agam. I let Charlotte Mazumet go. 
I never saw her again. 

PIERRE. Oh, my head. 

COUNTESS. I let Adolphe Bertaut go. 
And I was holding him. And I never saw 
him again. 

PIERRE. Oh, God! 

COUNTESS. Except once. Thirty years 
later. In the market. He had changed a 
great deal — he didn't know me. He 
sneaked a melon from right under my 



nose, the only good one of the year. Ah, 

here we are. Sergeant! 

(The Police Sergeant comes in with 

importance.) 

SERGEANT. I'm in a hurry. Countess. 

COUNTESS. With regard to the iris. 
This young man agrees with you. He says 
it suits me. 

SERGEANT (going). There's a man 
drowning in the Seine. 

COUNTESS. He's not drowning in the 
Seine. He's drowning here.* Because I'm 
holding him tight — as I should have held 
Adolphe Bertaut. But if I let him go, I'm 
sure he will go and drown in the Seine. 
He's a lot better looking than Adolphe 
Bertaut, wouldn't you say? 
(Pierre sighs deeply.) 

SERGEANT. How would I know? 

COUNTESS. I've shown you his photo- 
graph. The one with the bicycle. 

SERGEANT. Oh, yes. The one with the 
harelip. 

COUNTESS. I've told you a hundred 
times! Adolphe Bertaut had no harelip. 
That was a scratch in the negative. (The 
Sergeant takes out his notebook and pencil) 
What are you doing? 

SERGEANT. I am taking down the 
drowned man's name, given name and 
date of birth. 

COUNTESS. You think that's going to 
stop him from jumping in the river? 
Don't be silly. Sergeant. Put that book 
away and try to console him. 

SERGEANT. I should try and console 
him? 

COUNTESS. When people want to die, 
it is your job as a guardian of the state to 
speak out in praise of life. Not mine. 

SERGEANT. I should spcak out in praise 
of life? 

COUNTESS. I assume you have some 
motive for interfering with people's 
attempts to kill each other, and rob each 
other, and run each other over? If you 
believe that life has some value, tell him 
what it is. Go on. 

SERGEANT. Well, all right. Now look, 
young man . . . 

COUNTESS. His name is Roderick. 

PIERRE. My name is not Roderick. 

COUNTESS. Yes, it is. It's noon. At 
noon all men become Roderick. 



THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT 



H3 



SERGEANT. Except Adolphc Bertaut. 

COUNTESS. In the days of Adolphe 
Bertaut, we were forced to change the 
men when we got tired of their names. 
Nowadays, we're more practical — each 
hour on the hour all names are auto- 
matically changed. The men remain the 
same. But you're not here to discuss 
Adolphe Bertaut, Sergeant. You're here 
to convince the young man that life is 
worth living. 

PIERRE. It isn't. 

SERGEANT. Quict. Now then — what 
was the idea of jumping off the bridge, 
anyway ? 

COUNTESS. The idea was to land in the 
river. Roderick doesn't seem to be at all 
confused about that. 

SERGEANT. Now how Can I convince 
anybody that life is worth living if you 
keep interrupting all the time ? 

COUNTESS. I'll be quiet. 

SERGEANT. First of all, Mr. Roderick, 
you have to realize that suicide is a crime 
against the state. And why is it a crime 
against the state ? Because every time any- 
body commits suicide, that means one 
soldier less for the army, one taxpayer 
less for the . . . 

COUNTESS. Sergeant, isn't there some- 
thing about life that you really enjoy? 

SERGEANT. That I enjoy? 

COUNTESS. Well, surely, in all these 
years, you must have found something 
worth living for. Some secret pleasure, 
or passion. Don't blush. Tell him about it. 

SERGEANT. Who's blushing? Well, 
naturally, yes — I have my passions — like 
everybody else. The fact is, since you 
ask me — I love — to play — casino. And if 
the gentleman would like to join me, by 
and by when I go off duty, we can sit 
down to a nice little game in the back 
room with a nice cold glass of beer. If he 
wants to kill an hour, that is. 

COUNTESS. He doesn't want to kill an 
hour. He wants to kill himself. Well? Is 
that all the police force has to offer by 
way of earthly bliss ? 

SERGEANT. Huh? You mean — (He jerks 
a thumb in the direction of the pretty Blonde^ 
who has just been joined by a Brunette of the 
same stamp) Paulette? (The young man 
groans) 



COUNTESS. You're not earning your 
salary, Sergeant. I defy anybody to stop 
dying on your account. 

SERGEANT. Go ahead, if you can do any 
better. But you won't find it easy.